Government’s School Improvement Strategy – National Challenge – aims to raise results in English and Maths. There is a ‘Children’s Plan’ that sets out that by 2020 at least 90 per cent of children will achieve the equivalent of five higher level GCSEs by age 19. National Challenge is a step on the way towards this – to meet the goal that in every secondary school, at least 30 per cent of its pupils will achieve five good GCSEs including English and Maths by 2011.
In 1997 there were 1,610 schools below this 30 per cent minimum standard; today there are 638 – the National Challenge sets out how we will reduce this number to zero.
The bottom line measure is whether schools reach the ‘floor target’ in English and Maths.
The Schools Secretary (who as the Guardian and Times have both pointed out recently, can’t be named because emails with his name in get blocked) announced that he would double the £200m previously announced in the budget to £400m to help local authorities and schools.
The extra funding could mean that up to 70 National Challenge schools
over and above existing plans, and that up to 120 new Trust schools could be created.
There is £400m available to support National Challenge schools over the next three years.
Forthcoming plans will also look at improving results in ‘coasting’ schools – where pupils get high results but make slow progress; good schools which have the potential to be outstanding schools; and primary schools.
• National Challenge documents are available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/publications/nationalchallenge. These documents detail which schools (throughout England) may be turned into Academies.