Raising the floor targets is one thing but messing around with "requires improvement" is a bigger deal, say heads - 05 March 2013
Primary school headteachers are feeling "suffocated" by the constant "churn" of targets hitting their schools, a heads' leader warned this morning as another set of major changes was announced.
Under plans unveiled today by the Department for Education, from next year the floor targets will be raised for all primary schools to ensure that 65 per cent of 11 year olds taking national tests achieve at least a level 4 in English and maths. The threshold currently stands at 60 per cent.
But heads are more worried by changes to the newly introduced Ofsted category "requires improvement".
Under the plans revealed by schools minister David Laws, any school judged to be in the "requires improvement" category or below must close the gap between its disadvantaged students and the other children it educates or it "will be ordered to draw up action plans - alongside experts - on how [it] will spend [its] pupil premium money".
According to the DfE, these plans would be drafted in consultation with "outstanding education leaders" either from the National College or from a school that has a proven track record of boosting performance among poorer pupils.
Ofsted inspectors will then take the proposal, and the school's adherence to it, into account when they judge the school, officials said.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of head's union the NAHT, said headteachers were barely getting to grips with the new Ofsted category and already officials were making changes to it.
"[Requires improvement] has barely been in place six months and they are already altering it," Mr Hobby said. "It's the constant churn of targets that is the problem. Clearly the Lib Dems are very keen on how the pupil premium is spent but they have barely given us a chance to get to grips with the new category."
"Heads have no problem with the raising of the bar; it is right that this happens. All heads would want to see 80 per cent and upwards hitting level 4. But we need some breathing space. Heads are beginning to feel suffocated by the amount of change and pressure they are under and this pressure will be passed on to their pupils," he said.
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