New league tables, not good results

A lot of primary schools will probably find this article rather alarming.

New targets for reading, writing and mathematics were brought in this year. These targets are tougher than before in an attempt to improve standards for education.

Well the statistics don’t make pleasant reading. Targets were missed by 767 schools of more than 15000 in which final year pupils take SATs exams. This is higher than last year, when the targets were not so demanding – but comes against a backdrop of overall improving results. About three-quarters of the pupils achieved the expected Level 4 or higher in reading, writing and maths.

And 63% reached a tougher measure brought in this year, which the government says shows children are ready for secondary school. One in five children (21%) reached the even higher grade, Level 5.

The league table data was released by the Department for Education (DfE). Individual schools are now deemed to be below target if fewer than 60% of their pupils do not achieve Level 4 or higher in reading, writing and maths and pupils are not making the expected progress in these three subjects between the ages of seven and 11.

Those falling below targets could be put under new leadership, turned into academies or closed down.

The government says the targets are “firm but fair” and the evidence is that schools “respond to the challenge of a higher bar”. It says the data suggests schools are improving and that last year 834 primaries would have fallen below the new standards.

A spokesman for the DfE said: “This government brought in higher primary-school floor targets with one aim in mind – to drive up standards. Schools respond to this challenge. The floor standards we introduced were tougher and performance is improving. Heads, teachers and pupils deserve credit for meeting the challenge head on.”

Some results from 25 schools were “annulled” or not counted, the government says, because of “maladministration”. This may include: cheating, opening test papers early, incorrect storage of papers, giving children unsupervised rest breaks, teachers failing to cover wall displays. Many of the annulled results were in maths, but in 11 cases, results for reading were also not counted.

The data compares areas all over England. So here are some good and not so good performers:

Unsurprisingly London schools continue to perform well. Other high flyers include: Richmond upon Thames, Trafford, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Sutton and Solihull. It’s noticeable that the majority if not all of these schools are all around the London area (my geography isn’t that great).

Those areas not quite so great include: Poole (NO, that’s my neck of the woods! 😦 ), Bradford, Luton, Isle of Wight (not surprising given recent media articles about schools there over the past couple of years), North East Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Medway. In Poole, 33% of primaries are considered failing by the government’s benchmarks. In a further 17 local authorities at least one in 10 schools did not meet the key performance target. As I plan on going back to that area to teach, this presents a challenge to me. As a graduate of education there, I will make it rise again. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

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