New accountability system to ensure literacy & numeracy

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An ambitious new accountability system will raise standards across the board because of its high expectations and its focus on the progress made by every child from age 4 to 19, the government has announced.

Schools Minister David Laws said it was right that schools and colleges would be held accountable for ensuring every child is able to read and write well, and has good maths skills. This will mean all young people leave education with the skills needed to compete for apprenticeships, places at leading universities and good jobs, helping to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

He added that the new system of measuring performance was much fairer on schools and colleges, would expose both underperforming and coasting schools, and would mean all pupils received the attention they deserved to achieve to their full potential.

Across primary and secondary schools, and into post-16 education, the higher standards will be underpinned by more rigorous tests and qualifications, a high quality of teaching for all pupils, and a strong focus on the key subjects of English and maths.

All schools and colleges will also have to publish the essential information about their performance - giving parents an at-a-glance overview of the progress a school’s pupils make, and the grades they achieve.

Primary schools will show pupils’ progress from age 4 to 11 (compared to others with similar starting points in reception); what proportion reach the demanding new standard at age 11; how well pupils do on average at age 11; and what proportion of their pupils are rated ‘high achieving’. It means four-year-olds will face new school assessments just days after starting full-time education.

Secondary schools will show pupils’ progress from age 11 to 16 (compared to others with the same results at age 11); what their pupils’ average grade is across 8 subjects; what proportion of their pupils achieve at least a C in English and maths; and what proportion of their pupils achieve the EBacc.

Colleges and school sixth forms will show students’ progress from GCSE to age 18 in academic subjects or Tech Levels; what students’ average grade is in each category; the progress made by students who joined them without a C in English and/or maths; what proportion of their students drop out; and what proportion of their students go on to further study, a job or training at the end of their courses.

The announcement includes:
 

  • New school assessments for primary school children to ensure they start secondary school able to read well, write well, and have a solid grounding in maths. There will be a new, more ambitious bar (set at 85% of a school’s pupils) while a reception baseline will mean that progress is a key element of the new system. This baseline will be a simple check of a child’s level of understanding - for instance, counting and picture or letter recognition - carried out by the child’s teacher in the first few weeks of reception
  • SATs tests in the three-Rs taken by 11-year-olds at the end of primary school will be dramatically toughened up to coincide with the introduction of the Government’s new National Curriculum;
  • All primaries will be required to ensure 85 per cent of 11-year-olds reach minimum standards – up from just 65 per cent at the moment – or satisfy alternative pupil progress measures, with those failing do so likely to be placed under the control of new leadership;
  • Existing secondary school league tables, which are based on the number of pupils gaining five A* to C grades, will be scrapped to avoid focusing too much attention on “borderline” pupils on the cusp of scoring a C;
  • Secondary pupils will be judged on the average grade achieved across eight subjects, including English and maths, as well as their relative progress between the age of 11 and 16;
  • Colleges and sixth-forms will publish a range of new figures on pupil performance, including the number of teenagers going straight into a job or university.


David Laws, the Schools Minister, said: “The new system will mean higher standards, no hiding place for under-performing schools and coasting schools, and real credit being given to schools and colleges which may have challenging intakes but which improve their pupils’ performance.

“In primary schools, we are raising the bar to improve standards and introducing a proper measure of progress from when children start school to age 11.

“I want to see all children leaving primary school with a good standard of reading, writing and maths so that they can thrive at secondary school. A better start at secondary school is a better start in life.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “We welcome the emphasis on progress as the defining measure of school performance and the recognition that there is more to primary education than preparing for secondary education.”

But Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: “PACEY remains firmly opposed to baseline testing for four-year-olds and is unconvinced that the Government’s approach will best support a child's early development.

"This change has more to do with monitoring school performance than supporting children to have a strong foundation for future learning.

As our school readiness research has shown, preparing children for school involves much more than just early reading, writing and maths skills.

"We believe there should be equal consideration for children’s physical, social and emotional development as well as educational development, fostered through a play based approach to learning."

School Leadership Today
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