Education: Failing schools given less time to improve

More than 600 struggling state secondary schools have been given just three years to improve their performance or face the prospect of closure. The deadline for improvement for schools where less than 30 per cent get five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English has been brought forward by a year.

Alistair Darling earmarked an extra £200m for the 638 schools on the Government's list to help them to improve standards by 2011. Previously, it had been 2012.

Other measures aimed at improving education included speeding up the academies programme and earmarking £10m over five years to improve the training of science teachers. This will be matched by £10m from the Wellcome Foundation and a further £10m from industry.

Mr Darling also announced an expansion of a scheme in London where the best headteachers have helped to turn round weaker schools and top performing schools are encouraged to link with those that are struggling. He also announced £360m to improve adult skills by 2011.

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