Hit squads of top teachers should be sent in to rescue failing rural and seaside schools

Jun 21, 2013 by

Sir Michael Wilshaw warns of ‘poor, unseen children in mediocre schools’

Hit squads of top teachers and headteachers should be employed directly by the government and parachuted into failing schools, Ofsted’s chief inspector said today.

Experienced staff with a proven track record of success could transform children’s prospects, Sir Michael Wilshaw believes.

The trouble shooters would be drawn from Teaching Schools, which were set up two years ago to train top graduates.

They would be targeted at areas which have been identified as the worst-performing in the country.

Sir Michael said: ‘We’re calling these teachers “national service teachers”. These would be a tranche of teachers identified – not newly-qualified teachers, people who are working in schools that we know to be good teachers.

‘We’re suggesting to government that they contract with government and are then directed to these schools where children are failing, for a period of time, incentivised to do so – financially incentivised to do so – and also then given the chance to move on when they’ve proved themselves…fast-tracked into leadership positions,’ he told BBC Radio 4.

Sir Michael has already revealed that a report he is publishing today, Access and Achievement, will show inner city areas are no longer hotbeds of under-achievement among pupils.

Instead, the problem has shifted to deprived coastal towns and rural areas, as well as ‘sinking schools’, often in areas of relative affluence.

Sir Michael added: ‘Where the problems now are is in schools – good schools, outstanding schools – in county areas, with small proportions of poor children who are doing extremely badly.

‘The worst place that we found for a poor child to be educated in England is in West Berkshire; not exactly the sort of place you’d expect.

‘West Berkshire is a place where poor children do badly in the primary sector, in the secondary sector, and in post-16 in rural areas, like Norfolk and Suffolk, in Lincolnshire and coastal areas, Hastings and so on. We need to think carefully about what we’re doing to do in these situations.’

White working-class boys are also the most likely to leave education with few or no decent qualifications now instead of ethnic minorities.

Rural: Sir Michael said that leafy West Berkshire was the worst place for a poor child to be educated in England

In a speech Sir Michael said: ‘Today, many of the disadvantaged children performing least well in school can be found in leafy suburbs, market towns or seaside resorts. Often they are spread thinly, as an ‘invisible minority’ across areas that are relatively affluent.

‘These poor, unseen children can be found in mediocre schools the length and breadth of our country. They are labelled, buried in lower sets, consigned as often as not to indifferent teaching.

‘They coast through education until – at the earliest opportunity – they sever their ties with it.

‘The most important factor in reversing these trends is to attract and incentivise the best people to the leadership of underperforming schools in these areas.

‘This may require government to work with Teaching Schools to identify and incentivise experienced and effective teachers to work in less fashionable, more remote or challenging places. The concept of a National Service Teacher should be considered.’

An Ofsted insider last night said details of how the scheme would work had not been drawn up, although the idea is they would be ‘employed and funded by central government’.

It leaves open the prospect of teams of top teachers being sent in to turn around struggling schools or individuals taking long-term placements.

Sir Michael has already said the report will recommend a series of regional initiatives that will improve weak areas by focusing on leadership and mentoring by leading schools.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We will consider Ofsted’s recommendations and respond in due course.’

via Hit squads of top teachers should be sent in to rescue failing rural and seaside schools, says chief inspector | Mail Online.

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