HC Deb 24 November 2000 vol 357 cc362-3W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on progress with the Fresh Start Initiative. [139777]

Ms Estelle Morris

The Government are committed to preventing schools from failing, and turning round those that do as quickly as possible. There are now under 380 schools on special measures compared with 515 in 1998. Over 600 schools have been turned round since 1997. The average turn-round time currently averages 18 months, compared to 25 months in 1997.

Over 100 schools in special measures have closed, and the pupils been educated elsewhere. Where it proves impossible to turn a school round in a reasonable time, closure should be the preferred option. In exceptional circumstances, where closure is not feasible, the local education authority may consider a Fresh Start, closing the existing school and opening a new school on the same site. This is a difficult course, and should be reserved for the hardest cases. Twenty five schools have been "Fresh Started". All were causing concern and the majority had been on special measures for over two years.

We have built on the experience of the early Fresh Starts. We are now providing targeted capital and recurrent funding, and professional support. We will not provide funds or support unless the Fresh Start process planned and supported by the local education authority, and there is a strong likelihood of success.

Fresh Start schools are new and fragile, and there are no quick fixes. They will be treated in the same way as other schools on special measures, including termly monitoring by Ofsted. They need to focus on raising the achievement of their pupils. We expect all Fresh Start secondary schools to achieve the minimum standard of 15 per cent. of pupils achieving five GCSEs at grades A1-C within three years of opening.

New school name Former school name Phase LEA Area Date of fresh start
Kings High School Kingsleigh Secondary Bournemouth September 2000
Parkwood High School Herries Secondary Sheffield September 2000
St John and St James Rams Episcopal Primary Hackney September 2000
Westmorland Maycroft/Brindale Primary Stockport September 2000
Paringdon Primary Peterswood Junior Primary Essex September 2000
Water Lane Sumners Primary Essex September 2000
Kings College Kings Manor Secondary Surrey September 2000
Corby Community College Queen Elizabeth/Beanfield Secondary Northamptonshire September 2000
Tividale Community School Tividale Primary Sandwell September 2000