During a recent Ofsted inspection, a customer school of ours (we publish the Primary Progress Toolkit - software that helps with pupil tracking and performance data management) was told they should be aiming for progress of four points each year. Other customer schools have been told by local authorities that they should be aiming for two sub-levels per year, also four points. What is the basis for these demands?
Four points per year adds up to 16 points' progress over the four years between key stages 1 and 2. Yet the Department for Education and Skills says that median performance for primary pupils is expected to be level 2B at KS1 and 4B at KS2, a gain of 12 points over the four years. The National APS at KS1 in 2006 was 15.4 and 27.9 at KS2 (maintained mainstream schools), a gain of 12.5 points. Even the "national median line", KS1-KS2, 2006, which is the basis for value-added calculations, shows median average progress of 13 points and an average of only 14.8 points for the upper quartile.
So, is the demand for 16 points' progress over the four years of junior school a new "standard" being introduced quietly, without public debate about whether this is a sensible or achievable aim? Is it perhaps an "aspiration" that ignores past experience showing that unrealistic targets do nothing to improve performance; they just sap morale and bring the system into cynical disrepute. Perhaps Ofsted or the DfES can enlighten us?
Roger Watson Primary Progress Toolkit, Bishop's Stortford, Herts