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Help squads 'need extra time'

The elite "help squads" planned by Labour will be powerless to turn round failing schools unless they get more time to do a proper job, according to troubleshooting headteachers already on the case.

The Government, which is recruiting for the Special Measures Action Recovery Teams, says the new teams of experts will only be available to schools from five to 10 days at Pounds 400 a day.

But pioneering headteachers John McNally and Sylvia Morris, who have already been "parachuted" into schools in Birmingham and Southwark, London say that schools in difficulty need a minimum of two terms help.

Mr McNally, head of St Bernadette's primary in Birmingham, said: "I hope the Government is not so naive as to believe that you can turn around a school in 10 days. You have got to ensure that systems are set up."

Miss Morris, head of The Cathedral Primary in Southwark, said attendance at St Paul's primary (also in Southwark) had improved but it had taken six weeks. They estimate that nationally there are only a few dozen heads doing similar work -Birmingham has done it for 10 years.

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