Fewer primary schools below floor standard, but more are coasting

The number of primary schools below the government’s “floor standard” for key stage 2 SATs results has dropped.

This year, 364, or 3 per cent of mainstream primary schools fell below the floor standard, down from 511, or 4 per cent of primary schools, last year.

Though the floor standards remain in place as a way for the government to measure school performance this year, as does the government’s controversial “coasting schools” measure, failure to meet these standards will not prompt the same intervention as in previous years.

In 2018, a school is considered to be above the floor if at least 65 per cent of pupils meet the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at key stage 2, or if it achieves “sufficient progress scores” in all three subjects.

This year, the required progress scores were -5 in reading-5 in maths and -7 in writing.

This year, the number of primary schools deemed to be “coasting” by the government has risen from 524, or 4 per cent of schools, in 2017 to 640, equivalent to 5 per cent of school.

This year, primary schools were considered coasting if, in 2016, 2017 and 2018, fewer than 85 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of year six AND average progress of pupils was less than -2.5 in reading, -2.5 in maths or -3.5 in English writing.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, announced in May that only an Ofsted ‘inadequate’ rating will trigger forced conversion or rebrokering of schools.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the ASCL school leaders’ union, said: “Schools will be glad to see the back of the floor and coasting standards which the education secretary has himself described as confusing and intends to replace.

“These complex performance measures are based entirely on data which, in primary schools, boils down to the results of SATs taken by year 6 pupils over one week each May after seven years of education. They cannot possibly tell the whole story of a school and far too much weight has been placed on them.

“We are pleased the Department for Education has made it clear that the floor and coasting standards will this year be used solely to identify schools that might benefit from support and will not be a trigger for an academy order or a warning notice. And we look forward to working with the department on a new system which we hope will take a broader and more nuanced view of school performance.”

Gibb hails narrowing of disadvantage gap

The government has also released data showing that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers has narrowed again this year.

According to the DfE’s disadvantage gap index, the gap narrowed by 3 per cent from 2.99 in 2017 to 2.90 this year. The gap has narrowed by 13.2 per cent since 2011, when it was 3.34, the DfE said.

According to the government, the disadvantage gap “summarises relative the  attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils” and is “more resilient to changes to assessment and therefore offers greater comparability between years”.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister said: “Standards are rising in our schools, with 86 per cent of schools now rated good or outstanding as of August 2018, compared to 68 per cent in 2010 and these statistics show that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has closed by 13 per cent since 2010.”