Primary schools face tougher targets

Hundreds more primary schools in England could be labelled as underperforming as the government raises its test result targets. This is from the BBC…

Next year schools will need to have 65% of pupils achieving the expected levels in English and maths, up from 60%, Schools Minister David Laws says.

Mr Laws wants pupils to be “secondary ready” when they leave primary school.

Head teachers’ leader Russell Hobby accused ministers of “shifting goal posts” to chase “easy headlines”.

If schools continue to “consistently underperform” below this target they could be required to become academies.

The increased target will apply to 11-year-olds taking their Sats tests in spring 2014.

Based on last year’s results, there would have been 866 schools below the minimum target of 65%.

This would mean hundreds more schools being brought below the minimum level. There are 476 schools below the 60% threshold.

But a Department for Education spokesman says that past experience suggests results will improve when targets are set higher.

In the tests taken in spring 2012, the national average was 79% for pupils achieving the expected levels for English and maths.

There will also be more pressure on the use of pupil premium, which is paid to schools to support disadvantaged pupils.

Schools which are deemed to be not doing enough to close the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils will have to produce action plans showing how they will spend pupil premium funding.

This will apply to schools which are below Ofsted’s classification of “good”.

“Many of our children are leaving primary school without having secured the basics in the 3Rs. They then go on to struggle at secondary school,” said Mr Laws.

“We must ensure that a far higher proportion of pupils are ‘secondary ready’ by the end of their primary school. This will allow them not simply to cope, but thrive, when presented with the challenges and opportunities of secondary school.”

The plans have been criticised by the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Russell Hobby said there had been no time to see how pupil premium funding was working, so it was too early to start planning for further changes.

He also disputed the raising of the minimum levels for test results.

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