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Volume 686: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Adonis on 25 October (WA 252), what immediate steps they intend to take in order to help the 272,000 primary and secondary school pupils who are attending schools in special measures or in other Ofsted categories of concern.[HL8070]

Local authorities have statutory responsibility for leading the process of improvement at schools in special measures or other Ofsted categories of concern. They are expected to produce a statement of action immediately when a school goes into special measures or is judged to require significant improvement, setting out which, if any, statutory intervention powers they intend to use to support the school's improvement.

The new Education and Inspection Act provides an additional power for local authorities to require a school to take a partner for the purposes of school improvement—this may be a nearby school that can help build the capacity of the school causing concern to drive the improvement forward.

The department works through the national strategies regional teams to provide support and challenge to local authorities with schools in Ofsted categories of concern so improvements are made as quickly as possible. Programmes of training, guidance and teaching support are available through the national strategies where the underlying problems identified concern the quality of teaching in the core subjects. Where weak leadership of the school is a key issue, support may be offered from one of the national leaders of education—head teachers at strong schools selected and accredited by the National College for School Leadership for deployment by the relevant local authority to support the turn around of the school in special measures. Tailored packages of support with additional financial resources can be offered by the department to particular schools where the local authority is unable to meet the immediate needs. In cases where the replacement of the school is necessary, the new Schools Commissioner may be involved to broker a new academy or a trust.