UPDATED: New £1 million scheme to help failing schools will also target academies

Council leader Jim Harker.
Council leader Jim Harker.

A new £1 million programme to turn around failing schools and improve opportunities for young people in Northamptonshire will also be available to academies, Northamptonshire County Council has confirmed.

The Race To The Top strategy aims to make Northamptonshire one of the highest performing counties for education by 2020 by encouraging schools to strive for excellence.

The cabinet agreed to invest £1 million in the scheme to turn around performance in under-performing schools at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Council leader Jim Harker said: “We are no longer prepared to accept any school that is failing our pupils and as a county council we are determined to take action to tackle this.

“That is why, at the end of this month, we will be formally launching our Race To The Top initiative which will identify under-performing schools and encourage all of our schools to do more for our pupils.

“By 2020, we will aim to be the best performing county for education.”

Top-performing schools will be asked to share good practice, grants and bursaries will be offered to schools seeking to improve, and schools will work with businesses to provide mentoring and work placement opportunities.

The strategy aims establish a Northamptonshire model of educational excellence, which includes setting “uncompromising targets” for pupils, potentially changing the structure of the school day.

Cllr Matt Golby, Cabinet Member for Learning, Skills & Education, said: “Race To The Top will be launched at the end of the month, with a tight programme and the aim to raise academic achievement of the young people in the county from below average to amongst the best in the country within the next three years.

“We will be working closely with the Department for Education and hope that additional funding will be made available from the government to help ensure its success.”