Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

PM: Coasting schools to be exposed

David Cameron is targeting school performance in middle class areas

Schools in middle class areas which "drift along" and fail to push pupils to their full potential will be named and shamed through league tables, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister said the concentration on sorting out failing inner city schools had masked a "hidden crisis" in more prosperous areas which needed to be exposed.

As of January, performance data would be sorted "so that everyone involved in schools can see for the first time whether they are doing as well as they should", he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Cameron said he also wanted the new generation of "free" schools to act as the "shock troops for innovation" in the system as the first to cater for special needs and alternative provision were given approval.

In his article, Mr Cameron wrote: "Why should we put up with a school content to let a child sit at the back of the class, swapping Facebook updates? Or one where pupils and staff count down the hours to the end of term without ever asking why B grades can't be turned into As?

"Britain can't let weak schools smother children's potential. We have got to turn every brain and every willing hand to the task of rebuilding our economy and society."

The Government would remain "relentless about combating entrenched failure", he said.

"But it's just as important to tackle those all over the country content to muddle through - places where respectable results and a decent local reputation mask a failure to meet potential. Children who did well in primary school but who lose momentum. Early promise fades. This is the hidden crisis in our schools - in prosperous shires and market towns just as much as the inner cities."

He welcomed the commitment of incoming chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw to tackle "coasting" schools, adding: "This challenge is one for all parts of the country - places where governors, parents and teachers might never guess things might be wrong. That's why it is vital to shine a spotlight on secret failure by giving people the information they need to fight for change."

As well as the league tables, the Government would start next June releasing anonymised data from the National Pupil Database showing "what happened to individual pupils: where they started, the progress they made and where they ended up", Mr Cameron said.

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