`Failing' schools return to fold after shock therapy

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The Independent Online
Most of the 18 schools named as failing by the Government earlier in the year have made such good progress that they will escape closure, ministers are expected to announce today.

David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, will argue that his policy of naming and shaming schools, before sending in help squads of advisers, has succeeded.

His decision to name the schools was attacked fiercely by teacher unions who said that public humiliation was not the best way to improve education.

One school on the list, Handsworth Wood Boys' School in Birmingham, is to be closed but not because of the Government's policy. The local authority had already taken the decision to close it before the 18 schools were named in May. It is scheduled to shut down at the end of this school year in July.

At least one other school, Blakelaw, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is expected to close but to be given a fresh start by the local authority in line with Government policy.

Mr Blunkett, who will make today's announcement alongside Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, has said that he wants persistently failing schools to be shut and reopened with a new head, a new name, some new staff and possibly some new governors.

The education bill to be introduced shortly in Parliament will give ministers power to order schools to make a fresh start. At present it is up to local authorities to decide whether schools should close or have a fresh start.

One of the schools on the list, Morningside Primary in Hackney, east London, has made such good progress that it is believed to have been given a clean bill of health three years after it was failed by inspectors.

Mr Woodhead is also expected to announce that 50 out of 400 schools have been taken off special measures, the system of close monitoring inspection applied when inspectors believe a school is failing.

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