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Failing schools seek special talent;Hot data;Briefing

MORE than 800 schools and units have now been in special measures at some point since regular inspections were introduced. This is approaching 4 per cent of all schools.

So far, more than 60 of these schools have closed or are in the process of closing. Some have re-opened under the Fresh Start scheme, usually with a new name and a new head.

Of those schools entering special measures since the start of the 1997-98 school year, and still in special measures in the summer of 1999, 51 per cent had advertised for a new head by July of this year. In other schools, a temporary head has been drafted in by the local authority until special measures are lifted.

London schools are most likely to have sought new heads, with two-thirds having advertised. This compares with only 47 per cent of schools in the shire counties and the metropolitan districts. In the newer unitary local authorities, half the schools have sought new heads.

Some Fresh Start schools, particularly in urban areas, have been advertising for new heads at salaries well above expectations based on the number of pupils. Indeed, most Fresh Start secondaries have offered salaries of at least pound;60,000 to attract a talented leader to turn the school around.

John Howson is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. Email:

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