Plan to give local authorities more power to help failing schools

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Indy Politics

Local authorities will be required by law to consider taking early action if a school is under-performing under plans unveiled today.

The proposals, confirmed in the Queen's speech will see local authorities' powers strengthened to allow them to intervene if a school gives them cause for concern.

It follows an announcement by schools secretary Ed Balls in June of the £400 million National Challenge initiative to raise exam standards in 638 schools where fewer than 30% of pupils score five Cs in their GCSEs, including maths and English.

Local authorities were told to come up with a rescue plan for each of the schools on the Government's hit list, and the schools were warned they face closure or being turned into an Academy if their scores did not improve.

Top schools will also face less Ofsted inspections under proposals confirmed in the Queen's Speech.

The Queen's Speech also formalised proposals to create three new government agencies.

It confirmed that Ofqual will become the new exams regulator and take over responsibility from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) for maintaining standards and regulating the qualifications market.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is to be scrapped to make way for the Young People's Learning Agency, which will support local authorities to carry out their responsibilities for 16-19 year olds, and a new Skills Funding body which will take responsibility for adult learning.

Under the proposals confirmed today, local authorities will take control of the funding and organisation of 16-19 education from the LSC, giving them overall responsibility for all children's services between the ages of 0-19.

The Bill announced today also includes proposals for:

* Giving parents a clearer route to have their complaints about schools heard;

* Schools to be given powers to search pupils for alcohol, drugs and stolen goods;

* A requirement that all secondary schools work in Behaviour Improvement Partnerships;

* A new negotiating pay body set up for school support staff;

* The introduction of an entitlement to an apprenticeship place for each suitably-qualified young person from 2013.