Schools in Special Measures

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 2:30 pm, 27th October 2014

What recent steps her Department has taken to improve schools which have been placed in special measures.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

We act swiftly to tackle failure. If a local authority maintained school goes into special measures, Department for Education officials contact it within five days of being notified, and begin to work with it towards becoming a sponsored academy. Since 2010, we have opened 1,042 sponsored academies, which have nearly all resulted from this process. If an academy goes into special measures, the regional schools commissioner responds equally swiftly.

Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover

Is the Minister aware of the striking progress that has been made at Deal’s Castle community academy in just a few short months, thanks to strong intervention by his Department? Will a decision on sponsorship for the academy be made soon?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

I know that my hon. Friend has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure early resolution of the problems the school has faced since it went into special measures. We are working closely with the Castle Community Trust, and on securing a strong sponsor for the school quickly. Ofsted’s monitoring inspection on 10 September confirmed that the academy’s plans are fit for purpose, and that necessary improvements are being made.

Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Justice)

Schools in special measures should demand the highest possible standards of their teachers, but the 2011 teaching standards do not apply to such schools if they are academies or free schools. The standards include things such as the management of behaviour. Is it not more important than ever that the standards should apply to schools when they are in special measures, whatever their governance arrangements?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

I do not think that the hon. Lady is right. The teaching standards apply to all qualified teachers. If she is referring to the issue of qualified teacher status, she should be aware that the vast majority of teachers in academies are qualified teachers and so are required to abide by the teaching standards. Even for teachers who are not qualified, who might be lecturers from universities or people who have come from industry to teach physics or science, the head teacher is able to use the teaching standards in assessing them.