Best schools urged to mentor underachievers

The government wants the most successful schools to help those that are failing, claiming such partnerships can produce “huge leaps” in results at the least successful schools.

Ministers believe good schools can be encouraged to share their ethos, management techniques and teaching expertise by forming federations with less successful schools.

As an incentive, the government will provide £300,000 to high achieving schools to sponsor poor schools to become academies.

This follows the announcement from schools secretary Ed Balls in July that schools and universities would be exempt from the £2 million sponsorship normally required to sponsor an academy.

In a bid to encourage the initiative, billed as part of the government’s “relentless drive” to improve standards in historically deprived communities, schools minister Andrew Adonis today launched a new prospectus explaining how schools can take part.

Lord Adonis said: “We want more federations led by successful schools. The evidence is that forming a lasting relationship with a weaker school gives the strong school an ideal platform to share its ‘educational DNA’ for success.

“Good schools will be able to spread educational excellence to more children in their local communities. In return partnership with an academy or within a trust offers reciprocal benefits such as staff development, sharing of expertise and best practice and expanded learning opportunities for students.”

The government is especially keen for sixth-form and further education colleges to sponsor schools, believing this could help encourage the most disadvantaged pupils to stay in education.

The announcement comes a day before public schools will be told they must defend their charitable status, worth an estimated £100 million a year.

The Charity Commission will publish guidance on private schools tomorrow and is expected to argue they keep the controversial status as long as they can prove they benefit the education and wellbeing of children.