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Primary results must rise yearly

Schools and local authorities set to clash over target-setting.

Helen Ward reports.

PRIMARY schools will be expected to show that each year group has improved more than the last, under government plans to reform target-setting for 11-year-olds.

The instruction to local education authorities may lead to arguments over schools' freedom to set their own targets.

The Government has dropped the national 2004 target of 85 per cent of children reaching level 4 in English and maths. In the past, this target was divided into LEA targets and then school targets.

Schools will now set their own targets for the percentage of children reaching level 4, based on goals for individual pupils, and the LEA target will be set afterwards.

In a letter sent to all chief education officers this week, Professor David Hopkins, head of the standards and effectiveness unit at the Department for Education and Skills, said this would not diminish the role of LEAs: "On the contrary, it will be crucial that you work with schools both to support and to challenge them."

He added: "What is crucial is that your work will not be artificially constrained by a target we have previously set for the LEA as a whole."

Schools will also be expected to compare their results with those in similar circumstances, and primaries where fewer than 65 per cent of pupils reach the expected level should "set a trajectory of how to reach it as soon as possible".

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Expecting results to rise year by year, whether they are value-added or not, flies in the face of reality. This is going to be the cause for some dispute between schools and local authorities."

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