Record on targets is hit and miss

TARGETS will be the key way ministers demonstrate they are delivering improvements. The past record on hitting key education targets is solid, though there could be embarrassment this year over test results at 11.

A representative TES survey of 118 primaries suggests ministers could achieve their goal for KS2 maths, but miss it for English.

The KS2 targets were two of eight laid down in Gordon Brown's first spending review, in 1998. Of the six other targets, most of which relate to figures for 2002, four have been met or virtually met, one is on course to be met, and the other has been missed.

The goal of reducing truancy by a third remains elusive. Ministers have since changed the definition of the target. Ministers have met or nearly met one goal for increasing nursery places and two for GCSEs.

They almost hit the target of eliminating infant classes of more than 30. The goal of cutting exclusions by a third was hit, but the policy reversed after heads complained.

Ministers appear to have ditched some targets from the last spending review, two years ago. They no longer aim to reduce the number of local authorities where 11-year-olds perform below a certain level. But most of these relate to 2004-7, making judgment now difficult.

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