Michael Gove has today written to local authorities and academy sponsors asking for their plans to improve schools below the floor standards in their area.

The new floor standards for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4, set out in the white paper last year, are tougher and fairer. They are tougher because they set a higher absolute level of attainment below which no school should fall. They are fairer because they put a focus on progression. In practice:

  • A  secondary school will be below the floor if fewer than 35 per cent of pupils achieve the standard of five GCSEs with grades A*-C including English and mathematics - raising the floor by five percentage points - and fewer pupils than the national average make the expected levels of progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 in English and mathematics.
  • A primary school will be below the floor if fewer than 60 per cent of pupils achieve the standard of Level 4 in both English and mathematics at Key Stage 2 - raising the floor from 55 percent - and fewer pupils than the national average make the expected levels of progress between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in English and mathematics.

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, the Schools Commissioner, will use her knowledge and experience to work with LAs to consider academy or other structural solutions for schools with a history of underperformance.

The Secretary of State is also urging LAs to consider the use of national and local leaders of education and teaching schools to drive improvement.

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, the new Schools Commissioner, said today:

Whilst there are many excellent schools in the country, the tail of underperformance is a long and depressing blight on our education system.

I want to work with local authorities to come up with robust plans to tackle underperformance, brokering academy solutions and helping all schools to become excellent.

Children do not get a second chance for a good school education, and so I will not hesitate to challenge local authorities or academy sponsors where standards are not good enough.

Local authorities will have until 15 April to respond. Copies of the letters are available from the associated resources section to the right of this page.