Ofsted chief calls for clusters of schools to help raise standards

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SCHOOLS should be forced to join “clusters” to help raise standards, Ofsted’s chief inspector has suggested.

These federations of schools could be led by an “exceptional” head teacher, who would be paid more money to ensure that all of the schools in the group are performing well, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw.

He argued this may be necessary in order to deal with the “long tail of under-achievement” in schools and said he would be talking to new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan about the issue. Under the plans, each year up to 100 top heads would be paid extra to lead “clusters” of schools, with the scheme initially taking place in the most challenging areas, it was suggested.

“If I were Secretary of State, I would use legislation to compel all schools to join clusters, organised either by local authorities or by these new regional commissioners,” Sir Michael told the Times Education Supplement (TES).

“You say to the outstanding heads, ‘You’re going to get more money for doing this, you’ll be judged exceptional by Ofsted, so you must make sure that all schools in your cluster are working effectively’.”

Sir Michael said the move would allow Ofsted to inspect the performance of federations of schools, rather than rating individual schools, the TES reported.

“If we’re going to do anything about the long tail of under-achievement, we’re going to have to crack this problem,” the chief inspector said. “We’re not going to rise up the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tables until this issue is sorted out. I’ll be talking to the Secretary of State about financially incentivising it.”

It is understood that the proposals will not feature in Ofsted’s plans in the near future.

Sir Michael has previously called for top head teachers to be rewarded for helping to raised standards in other struggling schools. He has also recommended that Government could recruit a proportion of England’s most talented teachers to teach in ‘’less fashionable, more remote or challenging places’’.