School oversight and intervention

Inquiry status: inquiry concluded.

The Department for Education is accountable to Parliament for the overall performance of the school system in England, which currently educates almost 7 million children aged 4 to 16 years old, at an annual cost of £40 billion. The system comprises 21,500 state-funded schools. Of these, 17,300 are maintained schools, overseen by local authorities, and 4,200 are academies, directly accountable to the Secretary of State. The Department aims for all schools to give children a high-quality education. Its overall objective is for all children to have the opportunity to attend a school that Ofsted, the independent inspectorate for schools, rates as ‘good’ or better. Nationally, educational performance has improved but a significant number of children still attend underperforming schools. The Department has set up frameworks that specify how it and other bodies should assess school performance and when they should intervene. However, beyond routine annual financial reporting, it has not defined national measures for financial management, governance or safeguarding. This inquiry will examine the effectiveness of the current system of formal intervention in schools, how oversight can be improved and how the Department can better understand what local authorities do to improve schools.

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