On another level

10th August 2012 at 01:00

Sir Michael Wilshaw says that "Ofsted will look at outcomes in relation to the progress that pupils are making from entry points" ("A break from tradition", Comment, 3 August). Ofsted's expectation is that pupils will progress by two levels between key stages 1 and 2. Putting on my hat as a retired secondary maths teacher, I suggest that this is not a fair expectation.

If a pupil reaches level 3 in KS1 and progresses to level 5 in KS2, that represents an increase of 67 per cent from their original level. If a pupil reaches level 2 in KS1 and progresses to level 4 in KS2, that represents an increase of 100 per cent. If a pupil reaches level 1 in KS1 and progresses to level 3 in KS2, that represents an increase of 200 per cent. If a pupil doesn't reach level 1 in KS2, any level achieved represents an infinite increase from their original level.

Using percentage increase as a guide, it would seem fair to suggest that a 100 per cent rise in levels from KS1 to KS2 might be fairer. That would mean, from KS1 to KS2, a level 3 pupil should reach level 6, a level 2 pupil should reach level 4 and a level 1 pupil should reach level 2. A pupil working below level 1 at KS1 should simply be praised for all progress made.

I am not advocating using this "percentage increase"; I am trying to show that any system aiming to measure progress in such a fashion won't be anywhere near an accurate reflection of actual pupil progress. The terrible thing about the present system is that the brightest pupils will find it easiest to achieve the necessary progress, which means that schools with the weakest academic intakes have the hardest job and will get the most criticism from Ofsted for failing to achieve targets.

Mike Rath, Barnstaple, Devon.

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