Concerns have been raised about the impact of today’s key stage 2 results on the number of primary schools falling “below the floor” and the number of pupils who might be expected to sit resits at secondary school.
Figures released today by the Department for Education (DfE) show that just 53 per cent of year 6 pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.
Schools and union leaders are now concerned about how this might affect both primary and secondary schools in the coming years.
Primary schools are expected to meet an attainment threshold of 65 per cent of pupils achieving the national standard in reading, writing and maths, as well as making sufficient progress in all three subjects.
If they fall below these standards, schools face possible intervention from either Ofsted or their regional schools commissioner.
Professionals are concerned that the attainment threshold is higher than the national average this year.
Julie McCulloch, (pictured above) primary and governance specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said it was “bizarre” to have a system where the attainment threshold was 12 percentage points higher than the national average.
She said: “Nicky has reiterated the commitment that no more than 1 percentage point more will be below the floor and we expect her to hold to that. What I expect will happen is that while a larger number fall below the floor for attainment, progress will be set at a different point to make sure this promise is fulfilled.
“However, I am still uncomfortable with primary assessment and the message today’s results send out about our schools – that half of our primary pupils are failing.”
Last year, 676 primaries fell below the floor. Nicky Morgan, education secretary, has promised that “no more” than “1 percentage point more” would fall below the floor this year, as schools work under a tougher, more rigorous curriculum and testing regime.
It should mean that about 850 primary schools are “below the floor” when further details about progress are released later in the year.
But primary school deputy headteacher, Michael Tidd, carried out a brief Twitter poll for his followers and found out that of the 200 people who responded, just one third met the attainment floor standard.
He later tweeted:
Notable from national data
53% of pupils achieved Combined RWM
That does not mean that 53% of schools meet the attainment floor standard!
— Michael Tidd (@MichaelT1979) July 5, 2016
He added: “The floor standard defines unacceptably poor attainment. It is set at 65 per cent, well above the average performance. The majority of schools will be below the floor, labelled by their government as failures. In reality, they have given their all and performed brilliantly in the face of adversity.”
But the DfE, in its press release published today about the results, re-iterated that the proportion of schools classed as below the floor would only rise by 1 percentage point at most.
The release added: “Today’s results form only one part of how primary school performance is measured – later in the year results for pupil progress will be published. This, taken in conjunction with today’s attainment figures, will be used to determine which schools require extra support and possibly intervention.”
Year 7 resits
Adding to the pressure on the school system in general, is the Conservative’s manifesto promise that all pupils who “fail to meet the expected standard” in English and maths will be required to resit the tests at secondary school, in year 7.
This is not expected to come into force until September 2017, but McCulloch said secondary school members at ASCL were “unanimous” in their opposition to the proposal.
Hobby added: “The government also plans to introduce resits of SATs in the autumn of 2017. Although this year’s students are spared that joy, if these results are any guide, nearly half of students could be forced to resit SATs at secondary school. This is hardly helpful.”
McCulloch said today’s results “exacerbated” secondary schools’ concerns about the resits – such as the impact on pupils’ self-esteem and on the year 7 curriculum.
Currently, the proposed timeline for year 7 resits mean that schools won’t be affected for another year. But, the government is expected to release a consultation at the start of the next academic year, in September, where more details will be released, and then sample materials will be published in December.