Today is league table day, when school exam results are published. The most interesting part of the table is the bottom: 195 schools* are below the government’s “floor targets”. These schools are risk of being taken over by a third party to turn them around (if the process is not already underway).
Schools in this category have fewer than 40 per cent of their pupils get Cs or better in English, maths and three other subjects. They must then also have fewer than 70 per cent of the schools’ pupils making “expected progress” in both English and maths.
A few system-level observations:
- London does really well. Really well. Only 11 of its schools are below target. Only four are in inner London. The outer boroughs are now a bigger educational problem than the inner city.
- None of the 164 selective schools was below the floor. Grammar schools cruise to the floor target, because they select bright kids. But some might repay a visit by the inspectors: three of them made less-than-expected progress in English.
- About one third of failing schools are sponsor academies already. The DfE has yanked on the convert-to-academy lever a lot already. But there are another 132 schools left below the floor target not already attached to sponsors.
- The academy chains are not going to find it easy to take them on. The best academies are all in London. The worst schools are not. There is limited really good improvement capacity in chains outside the capital, where it is needed.
- The converter academies were not all good schools. Already, there are 14 which are not meeting the standard. The DfE’s terror of sorting out struggling academies is going to become an ever-bigger problem.
And here is the data: first, what type of schools are below the floor target. For the neophytes, voluntary-aided and -controlled schools are the two types of English religious schools. Foundation Schools and CTCs are types of schools with more independence from their local authorities than others (both are precursors to the academies). Studio Schools and UTCs are types of employer-led school (see here for more on them):
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Second, this is where the struggling schools are. I have broken this down by the GCSE-age school population, which brings out some of the variation in regional school quality more clearly.
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