'Worst' primary schools to become academies

The worst 200 primary schools in England are to be forced to turn into academies, the Education Secretary will say today.

Announcing the move, Michael Gove will say that a system in which so many children leave primary school without a good grasp of English and maths "should no longer be tolerated".



Around 1,400 primary schools in England currently have less than 60 per cent of their pupils reaching a basic level in English and Maths at age 11, and children making below average progress between the ages of seven and 11.



These are the basic floor standards that primaries are expected to achieve.



Of these 1,400 primaries, about 500 have been below the floor for two or three of the last four years.



And a further 200 have been below the threshold for the last five years, with 120 of them below the target for more than a decade.



It is these that are expected to be turned into academies - semi-independent state schools that receive their funding directly and have more powers over areas like the curriculum and staff pay and conditions.



In a speech to the National College for School Leadership in Birmingham today, Mr Gove will warn that the education debate in this country has not "confronted reality".



He will say: "Education systems across the world are improving faster than England. We have to set our sights higher.



"We should no longer tolerate a system in which so many pupils leave primary school without a good grasp of English and maths and leave secondary school without five good GCSEs.



"We want all parents to have a choice of good local schools. Evidence shows that the academy programme has had a good effect on school standards.



"Heads and teachers should run schools and they should be more accountable to parents instead of politicians.



"We must go faster and further in using the programme to deal with underperforming schools."



Mr Gove will also set secondary schools in England a new target of securing five good GCSE passes for at least half of their pupils.



The new target of 50% of pupils attaining five A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and maths, would require the worst-performing secondaries to raise their results to the level currently achieved by the average school.



Those which fail could face takeover by a successful neighbouring academy school.



In the most recent round of exams, some 870 out of the 3,000 secondaries in England fell short of the benchmark.



Mr Gove has already raised the target for five good GCSEs from 30 per cent to 35 per cent of pupils.



He is expected to propose raising the threshold to 40 per cent in the 2012-13 academic year and 50 per cent by 2015.





Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove said the academy system had "transformed" secondary education and could do the same for primary schools.



The changes will start to be made to "200 of the weakest primary schools" from September 2012.



He said: "All schools that we're looking at are schools which have been below what we call the floor standard for more than five years.



"Every year we ask young people to sit tests at the end of primary school in English and mathematics. These are schools where more than 40 per cent of students haven't been getting to the right level, and they haven't been getting to that level for more than five years.



"So yes, these schools will know themselves the difficulties that they've been in, and starting from 2012, from September 2012, these schools will be converted into academies."



He said that the process could involve "significant change" in terms of staffing, and in some cases the headteacher would be removed.



"Sometimes, yes, the headteacher will go, but in other circumstances it will be the case the staff will remain the same but the leadership that's provided by another school will help those who have been struggling for far too long to improve.



"It's not intended to be anything other than a helping hand upwards for the staff in the school, but above all the children who have to be our first concern."



Mr Gove insisted the change would "strip out bureaucracy" for teachers and give them more freedom to vary the school day and change the curriculum.



"Ultimately the people who make schools better are teachers not bureaucrats and that's what the academy model incarnates," he added.



He wants "as many schools as possible" to become academies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones