More than 350 primaries below Sats floor target

Number of 'coasting' primary schools increases to 640

primary pupils writing

The number of primary schools below the floor standard has fallen by 29 per cent compared with last year.

The statistics from the Department for Education show that 364 mainstream primary schools (3 per cent) were below the floor standard, down from 511 last year. In 2016, 665 mainstream primaries had been below the floor target.

The statistics also show that the number of schools defined as "coasting" has risen from 524 (4 per cent) in 2017 to 640 (5 per cent) in 2018.

There is some overlap between the two measures, with 132 schools both below the floor standard and defined as coasting.

The floor standard and coasting standard are based on the performance of Year 6 pupils in Sats tests.

Schools are above the floor standard if 65 per cent of pupils reach the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in key stage 2 Sats or if a school has progress scores of at least -5 in reading, -5 in maths and -7 in writing.

The statistical release also notes that closed schools are excluded from the floor standard. Of the 198 schools closed in 2018 that would otherwise have been included in the floor-standard calculations, 22 would have been below the floor standard.

The coasting definition is based on three years of data, using the same performance measures that underpin the floor standards.

In 2018, a primary school will fall within the coasting definition if, based on revised data for all of 2016, 2017 and 2018, fewer than 85 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of primary school and average progress made by pupils was less than -2.5 in English reading, -2.5 in maths or -3.5 in English writing.

Earlier this year, education secretary Damian Hinds announced that he intended to replace the system of having "below the floor" and "coasting" standards with a "single, transparent data trigger at which schools will be offered support".

And the guidance on primary school accountability for this year stated, in light of the proposed changes, that: "Where a school is below the floor or coasting standards, but is not judged inadequate, the regional school commissioner will not use the secretary of state’s powers to issue an academy order or a warning notice. Instead, the floor and coasting standards will be calculated in 2018 solely for the Department for Education to identify schools that might benefit from support."

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Schools make incredible efforts to guarantee that every child gets the best possible start in life.

“For their troubles, each year schools find themselves propelled to the top or condemned to the bottom of a league table based solely on a few short tests of young children in a small number of subjects. This entirely wrong, so we shouldn’t celebrate too loudly, or berate too strongly."

The primary performance tables, published today, also include the return of three-year averages of school results alongside the existing annual headline measures. The use of three-year average measures had been on hold after the introduction of new Sats tests in 2016. 

The initial KS2 Sats results, published in July, revealed that 64 per cent of 10- and 11-year-olds reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. The revised statistics today confirm that figure.

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