Education company fined again for failing standards

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The Independent Online

The first private company to take over the running of an entire education authority is to be fined yet again for failing to meet its targets for improving GCSE and national test results.

The first private company to take over the running of an entire education authority is to be fined yet again for failing to meet its targets for improving GCSE and national test results.

CEA@Islington will lose half of the £908,480 fee that it was due to receive for overseeing Islington Council's schools this year, despite achieving its best ever GCSE grades.

Provisional GCSE results released by the north London borough yesterday show that 37.5 per cent of its pupils achieved at least five top A* to C grades, compared to 32.9 per cent last year. However, it failed to reach the target of 39 per cent, the figure agreed when the company won the Islington contract three years ago. The figures compare with a national average of 51.6 per cent last summer. The latest fine means that the company has been penalised three years running.

Both the council and CEA@Islington welcomed the rise in results, but recognised that more needed to be done.

Bill Clark, director of schools' services at CEA@Islington said that the borough's GCSE results were showing sustained improvement. "This is the second year running that we have seen a rise of over four percentage points, and this progress means that we are now in sight of our target."

James Kempton, Islington's councillor with responsibility for education, acknowledged that the targets were very challenging. "Education in Islington cannot be turned round overnight but these results are a very big step forward."

The company also missed all its targets for national tests taken by 11-year-olds this year. Only 69 per cent of pupils reached the required standard in English papers, missing a target of 79 per cent. In maths 68 per cent of children succeeded, but the target was 75 per cent. It also missed its target for 14-year-olds' English tests. Only 46 per cent reached the standard, missing the target of 55 per cent.

The company won a seven-year contract to run Islington's schools and their support services in March 2000.

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