Education and Adoption Bill

Written evidence submitted by David McNaught (EAB 29)

I agree with the government’s direction to address the issue of ‘Coasting Schools’. I also accept that the route to improving these schools may well be academisation. However, the wording in the draft legislation ‘draws in’ schools to the ‘coasting schools’ criteria, that are already making rapid improvement since being identified as underperforming. For example, a school that had been underachieving and is below the ‘coasting school’ threshold has been making rapid progress since 2013 under new leadership. This rapid progress can be clearly evidenced by such schools through attainment and progress data over the last two years and the impact of whole school improvement through a very recent Ofsted inspection. It also needs to be considered that some of these schools may already be planning academisation strategically and voluntarily.

In these circumstances, the risk of intervention will potentially undermine this excellent work that is already happening in schools previously identified as underperforming, in particular:

a) Good school leaders, particularly younger ones, will not want to take on the more challenging schools when their professional reputation might be at stake early on in their careers or, similarly, an experienced head with a proven track record may not wish to risk a well earned reputation.

b) Recruitment of Governors may also become an issue for similar reasons as it may be difficult to recruit strong school leaders.

c) As a result of the above, and most importantly, the very children including some of our most vulnerable children, who need strong school leaders in their schools will be potentially without them.

In conclusion, the wording in the legislation should be contextualised to take account of schools which, since 2013, have been making rapid progress and where there is strong evidence to support this by a recent Ofsted Inspection. Schools with this profile could be added to the list of exemptions in the legislation for a period of time.

July 2015

Prepared 14th July 2015