Local Authorities and Ministers seem reluctant to use Interim Executive Boards
The Schools minister, Lord Nash, giving evidence to the Education Select Committee, on 20 March, said that local authorities are reluctant to use Interim Executive Boards (IEB) as an intervention to rescue failing schools. Lord Nash claimed that 70 local authorities have never issued a warning notice, which is the step towards having an IEB. He said that local authorities are loth to use their IEB powers. And, he clearly thought that IEBs should be used more often .
He said “They do not feel the obligation that, frankly, we feel they should. We are talking about children’s futures. We need to send a message at every turn that we expect all schools to do what good schools do. We all know what those are. I could list them..”
However, this rather begs the question why, given the Ministers concerns about children’s futures , and his admiration for IEBs , the Secretary of State ,who has the power to impose an IEB, has chosen to use them on just four occasions so far. Ministers are as ‘loth’ , it would seem ,as local authorities are, to go down the IEB route.
Ministers are, in practice, keen that failing schools are placed under the wing of an academy chain to help raise their performance or, alternatively, a strong local school. A decision is made on what route to take following discussions with the local authority but that rarely means opting for an IEB.
Where schools are eligible for intervention, local authorities may exercise their powers to: require the governing body to enter into specified arrangements with a view to improving the performance of the school; appoint additional governors; suspend the delegated budget of the school; appoint an Interim Executive Board (IEB). Where schools are eligible for intervention ,the Secretary of State (ie Michael Gove) has the power to appoint additional governors; appoint an Interim Executive Board, or direct the local authority to close a school The IEB has a duty to conduct the business of the school in such a way as to secure a sound basis for future improvement. It carries out the functions of a governing body of the school for the time that it is in office.IEBs may vary in size but should be a small, focused group with at least two members appointed for the full period which it is expected to return the school to autonomy .
There are two key triggers for a school to come into a category for intervention, one being an Ofsted report, and the other the school’s performance in relation to floor targets. The Ofsted inspection system is risk-based, so the frequency of inspection is linked to the track record of the school