UK Prime Minister Tackles Under-Performing Schools

UK Prime Minister David Cameron believes that it’s not the lawless inner-city comprehensives that should be targeted for reform. Rather, he believes we should be targeting the schools that are “muddling through”.

The Government has long been pained by the “relentless mediocrity” of schools in middle class suburbs whose poor performance is disguised by their absence of disciplinary problems, as written in an editorial by the Telegraph.

“As Mr Cameron says, these schools achieve “respectable results” – but, once various soft subjects are discounted, their pupils’ embarrassingly bad command of core subjects such as English and mathematics becomes plain.”

This comes after a report shows that more than 100,000 children are being taught in “coasting” schools which fail to stretch their most able students. More than half of England’s 150 education authorities suggest that at least 130 schools across the country can be classed as “coasting”, writes Julie Henry at the Telegraph.

Schools are classed as “coasting” include  institutes that house pupils starting school with good SATs results but going on to get poor GCSEs, “unimpressive” pupil progress, static exam results, disappointing Ofsted ratings, “complacent” leadership and lack of pupil tracking and early intervention.

And if Cameron holds to his word, these “coasting schools” will be given a hard time by the new chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw. League tables will be expanded and exams will be toughened up.

“Spotting the real problem schools, looking at the league tables and sending in the inspectors to sort them out is relatively easy. And we remain relentless about combating entrenched failure. We will soon have taken over more failing schools with new academies than in the whole eight years of the program under Labor,” said Cameron.

Education looks to be one area in which the Government is pushing through its agenda with speed. Eighty free schools will have opened by September 2012; with many more planned.

“Already free schools – fully independent schools within the state sector, launched by this Government, funded by taxpayers and set up by parents and teachers, charities and entrepreneurs – are revolutionizing education. Today, the Government is launching plans for more – for children with behavioral problems or special needs.

“I want them to be the shock troops of innovation in our education system. They are going to smash through complacency. Two thirds of the first ones are oversubscribed, with some seeing more than three applications for every place.”

The Government also wants to rectify the problem of the unequal quality between faith and secular schools. State schools have long been trailing behind the best faith schools.

“Schools must help children to go further than anyone ever thought they could,” said Cameron. “We must give parents the evidence they need to get together to demand better. So that is what we are doing.”