Coasting Schools Definition: The Nerdy Details

The official definition for a ‘coasting school’ has been revealed today. This matters because schools defined as coasting are eligible for intervention from the government under the proposed Education Bill.


First things of note:

The status will not be based on Ofsted categories. It will be based on exam scores over three years.

Schools will not be classed as coasting until 2016. Data from 2014, 2015 and 2016 will be used to define them.


In 2016, a ‘coasting’ Secondary Schools will be one that:

In 2014 and 2015 had a five A*-C GCSE pass rate (including English and Maths) of below 60%;

And had a below average proportion of pupils making expected progress in English AND maths between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4;

And in 2016 receives a below-standard score on the new Progress 8 measure. (This standard will be set after the 2016 results to ensure it is at a suitable level).



So, in 2016, a school will be judged as coasting based on its GCSE pass score and expected progress scores of the 2014 and 2015 cohorts and the Progress 8 score of the 2016 cohort.

In 2017, a school will be judged by its GCSE pass rate and expected progress of the 2015 cohort, plus the Progress 8 scores of the 2016 and 2017 groups.

And by 2018, coasting schools will be selected based on three years of Progress 8 scores.

Remember:  Schools must be below the required quality bar every year across the three year period to count as coasting.




For Primary Schools in 2016, a coasting school will be one that:

Had less than 85 per cent of children achieving level 4, in each year between 2014, 2015 and 2016, and had below average proportions of pupils making expected progress in reading AND writing AND maths between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

So, if a school has above average proportions of pupils make expected progress in just one area – say, reading in 2014 – then it is out of the coasting definition.

There is no shift to a different measure defined in the proposed definition, but as primary schools move to the new national curriculum tests, and away from levels, it is likely ‘level 4’ will be replaced with an equivalent score.


‘Below average’ is based on median levels of expected progress for both primary and secondary schools.


This definition will be presented at the Education and Adoption Bill Committee today. Follow @schoolsweek on Twitter for updates.

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  1. Barry Scotland

    I am not sure which politician (mythically?) stated that it was outrageous that half of schools were below average. At least we know which one made it policy

  2. The primary bit isn’t quite nerdy enough for me – although that may be the DfE’s fault rather than yours.
    Are schools coasting if any one subject falls below 85% or is it based on combined Reading, Maths and Writing percentages? Or on Reading, Writing and GPS?
    Also, you say that progress will be measured on “median levels of expected progress”, but median levels of progress and expected progress are currently two different things. Does the Secretary of state know which age is talking about?

    • Julie McCulloch

      Also, I think the primary standard will be ratcheted up in 2016, to match new floor standards. So the coasting definition in 2014/15 will be based on an attainment target of 85% of children achieving Level 4 and a progress target of at least an average % of children making expected progress from KS1 to KS2.

      For 2016, though, it will be based on ‘the new accountability regime which will see children being expected to achieve a new higher expected standard and schools being measured against a new measure of progress’ – so presumably 85% achieving L4b, and whatever the new progress measure ends up looking like.

  3. I’m also curious to hear about how progress will be measured for primary schools who have opted out of the baseline assessment given that for accountability purposes they will only be judged on attainment now. Between ks1 & 2 perhaps?

  4. Jamie C Taylor

    I am happy to see that there has finally been a definition as to what a ‘coasting school’ is. It is a great insensitive to achieve and to look into every method to do so. The question would always be to the school who are effected by this new legislation is what is the next step; I will always believe this is via gaining a knowledge of the children’s abilities and understanding any barriers to learn like Dyslexia, no where to do homework & availability of resources.

    These school will need to be looking at the way they currently assess these and make sure they are gaining the most out of the products they purchase or look into not doing in house assessments.