3,000 primary schools will fail to hit targets


A report by Policy Exchange identifies a "perfect storm" of challenges which could see over 3,000 primary schools falling below tough new minimum standards in reading, writing and maths.

The study suggests that one-in-five primaries in England would fall below tough new targets in the three-Rs within two years.

Researchers said the decline would be part of a perfect storm of pressures facing primary schools in England from 2016 onwards following a series of major reforms to the education system.

State primaries must also handle the introduction of a new national curriculum, changes to the way 11-year-olds are assessed and a continuing cut in support from local authorities.

To ensure that teachers can focus on teaching and learning in the classroom, the report recommends that all primaries convert to Academies and join "chains" over the next 5 years. Currently, just over one-in-10 primaries are academies compared with almost six-in-10 secondary schools.

The recommendations would represent a dramatic shift in primary education as small schools have been so far reluctant to embrace academy status, which gives teachers full control over the curriculum, admissions, staff pay and the shape of the academic year.

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange said: “This report’s conclusion is that bringing schools together in academy chains is what is needed. Whilst there are some already moving in this direction, simply leaving it up to individual schools risks being too slow.”

Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said:“If one in five primary schools are at risk of ‘failing’ from 2016, this is because the government has put in train massive changes to the curriculum and assessment without providing training for teachers. The government needs to focus on ensuring there are enough teachers and on the quality of their training, rather than wasting time and money turning schools into academies and free schools.”

a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The new national curriculum and more rigorous floor standards will match the best in the world and equip every child for life in modern Britain. As a result of our reforms and the dedication of teachers, 80,000 more children are reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths than five years ago.”

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