Statutory guidance

Schools causing concern

Statutory guidance on local authorities' and regional directors' responsibilities relating to schools and PRUs causing concern.

Applies to England


Schools causing concern guidance


This guidance describes how:

  • local authorities and regional directors will intervene in underperforming local-authority-maintained schools
  • regional directors will intervene in underperforming academies
  • regional directors will intervene in pupil referral units (PRUs) judged inadequate by Ofsted

PRUs are places that provide education for children who can’t go to a mainstream school.

If you’re a local authority you:

You should also be aware of how this guidance affects your school if you’re part of a:

  • diocese
  • school foundation
  • governing body of maintained schools
  • academy trust

Statutory guidance sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law. You should follow the guidance unless you have a very good reason not to.

Published 2 May 2014
Last updated 9 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. 'Schools causing concern guidance' has been updated to give greater clarity and accuracy. The policy has not changed.

  2. The guidance has been updated to reflect changes to Ofsted’s inspection process in relation to a school judged inadequate solely due to ineffective safeguarding. Changes have also been made to bring text on trust-level intervention (formerly financial intervention in academies) into line with the updated academy trust handbook.

  3. 'Schools causing concern guidance' has been updated to give greater clarity on the operational process the department will follow in relation to the ‘schools not making the necessary improvements’ measure.

  4. Replaced 2 documents with updated guidance (from 1 September 2022).

  5. Added the document ‘Schools causing concern: guidance for local authorities and regional directors (from 1 September 2022)’. Changed the name of the existing guidance to include the date it was issued (March 2022).

  6. Updated guidance to reflect changes to the School Improvement Monitoring and Brokering grant and who can request that a schools academy order is revoked when a school is due to close.

  7. Updated page 31 of the guidance to provide clarity about the factors the Secretary of State will take into account when considering a request to revoke an academy order.

  8. Updated guidance to reflect current policy, including: removal of references to coasting and floor standards; how our school support offer will work in 2019 to 2020; how LAs have a legal obligation to inform the department when they use their intervention powers; a new section on academies causing concern; information on financial intervention in academies; and Pupil Referral Unit intervention guidance. No new policy has been introduced that has not already been publicly announced.

  9. Updated guidance with changes regarding accountability and roles in the schools system.

  10. Updated to clarify the indicators that are taken into account for warning notices.

  11. Updated to describe new process for schools that meet the coasting definition.

  12. Updated page 21 of 'Schools causing concern: guidance for local authorities and RSCs' to cover the use of writing data in 2017.

  13. Added the 'DfE intervention powers in pupil referral units judged inadequate by Ofsted' document.

  14. Added revised statutory guidance, which applies from 18 April 2016.

  15. Added a link to the consultation 'Intervening in failing, underperforming and coasting schools'.

  16. Updated to describe local authority accountability over governance in maintained schools, and over performance, special educational needs and safeguarding in academies.

  17. First published.