Hinds to replace 'confusing' floor standards and coasting school measures

DfE to consult on a single new measure that will trigger 'offer of support' for underperforming schools

Martin George

coasting measure could go

A controversial policy designed to put the spotlight on “complacent” schools that do not stretch their pupils is set to be scrapped as ministers seek to simplify the accountability system.

The DfE currently uses GCSE and Sats results for two separate mechanisms to identify underperforming schools: floor and coasting standards.

Schools that fall foul of either measure can be forced to become academies, or transfer to a different academy trust.

Last year, nearly 1,400 schools were either under the floor standard or designated as coasting, with 388 falling into both categories.

Education secretary Damian Hinds will today brand the system “confusing”, and launch a consultation on replacing the two categories with a single measure.

At the same time, he will announce that schools that are underperforming educationally will no longer be forced to academise or be re-brokered on the basis of data alone – only an “inadequate” Ofsted judgement will trigger such mandatory interventions.

A DfE policy document, published today, says: “We will not have both floor and coasting standards as this can be confusing - we will replace this with a single, transparent data standard.

“We will consult on how this will operate, and consider whether an Ofsted ‘requires improvement’ judgement should also be part of the trigger for an offer of support.”

Tes understands that the replacement will be based on the progress made by pupils, and is likely to resemble the floor standard rather than the coasting measure, identifying a smaller group of schools more in need of help.

This will also help address concerns the DfE does not have the capacity to help the large number of schools currently identified by the combination of the two measures.

There is expected to be discussion about whether the new measure should be based on one year’s data, as the floor standard is, or three, as the coasting designation is.

The coasting schools policy was announced by Nicky Morgan in 2015, and uses GCSE and Sats results to pick out schools where pupils are not making enough progress.

Those that meet the coasting definition for three consecutive years became eligible for intervention, with regional schools commissioners able to order them to become academies.

At the time, Ms Morgan warned that “for too long, a group of ‘coasting’ schools, many in leafy areas with more advantages than schools in disadvantaged communities, have fallen beneath the radar”.

The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to “turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy”. But last year, a Tes investigation found that no school had been converted into an academy as a result of being labelled coasting.

Of the 756 schools and academies that were officially classed as “coasting” in 2015-16, the first year the measure was used, and have not since closed, 51 per cent were told no further action was needed, and 49 per cent were told they needed some extra support.

Last year, 511 primary schools (4 per cent of the mainstream primaries) fell below the floor standard, and 524 primaries met the coasting definition. A total of 117 primaries met both criteria.


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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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