'Failing schools' reprieved from takeover

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Indy Politics
(First Edition)

THE Secretary of State for Education yesterday gave the first two schools to be identified as 'failing' another six months to improve before carrying out his threat to send in rescue teams.

THE Secretary of State for Education yesterday backed down from his threat to send in a its own rescue team to take over the running of run two schools criticised in damning inspectors' reports.

John Patten issued a reprieved for Crook primary school, in Durham, and Brookside special school in Derbyshire, . They were the first two to be identified as 'failing schools' after critical reports both of which were given damning reports by Her Majesty's Inspectorate. At another school identified as failing, the head teacher said he would resign.

But Mr Patten has decided to give the first two schools a second chance, by not yet sending to improve their performance. He will not - at least yet - send in 'education associations' to take over from the schools' headteachers and governors. He said he was pleased that their governors and local education authorities had responded positively to the challenges facing them.

'There is an evident determination to address the failings which the inspectors have identified. The inspectorate would continue to monitor both schools next term. I shall expect there to be clear evidence of progress by then. If there is not, I will not hesitate to transfer the schools to education associations from 1 September 1994.'

The head teacher of another ''failing school' , in Gateshead, said he would take early retirement to enable the school to rebuild and restore its reputation.

County Drive primary school, in Felling, Gateshead, had failed to provide pupils with an acceptable standard of education, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate. of Schools. Standards in English, mathematics, technology, geography, history and PE for 5- to 7-year-olds are were all below average. There was no evidence of work in religious education for the same children.

For children aged between 7 and 11, standards were below average in all the subjects. In nearly 80 per cent of the lessons, the learning was unsatisfactory or poor.

Only in the nursery, for a school which takes children aged between 3 and 11, were standards satisfactory and in some respects good, the inspectors said. Some children are were persistently naughty in school and outdoors there are numerous examples of aggressive play and irresponsible behaviour.

John Hope, has been head teacher of the Gateshead school for 18 years, . He said yesterday: 'We are very disappointed about the report, but we cannot quibble with its findings. The inspection was done in a very professional way.

'I have decided to take early retirement. The school needs a period of about five years to become a good school once again and in view of that, I think it is time to go.' Mr Hope, who is 57, said he had been under no pressure to resign and his staff and the education authority had been very supportive. 'About five or six years ago we had a very good reputation. But in a short period we lost 80 per cent of our staff, including our deputy head, just at the time when all the education changes were coming in. Obviously that was when we needed their experience.'

All the staff, he said, had gone because they had been offered promotion elswhere. His deputy head had gone to become the head of a larger school, two other staff had gone to be deputy heads elsewhere and three teachers had left to work for the education authority , to training other teachers.

'So while our very strong team were helping others, we needed help ourself.'

The school of 170 pupils, aged 4 to 11, is now fully staffed and an action plan is being formulated. to help the school to make changes. The school It has 40 days to produce the plan and if ministers are not satisfied with the proposals they can recruit 'education associations' to take over. However, with the head's decision to go, this would be unlikely.

'Failing schools' reprieved from takeover