Schools unlikely to hit targets

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
DfES report reveals that many of its performance criteria will probably not be met. William Stewart reports

The Department for Education and Skills has said it is likely to miss seven of its 11 school performance targets.

The admission comes in its latest annual report. It reveals it is heading for failure on its goals set for a variety of years (see box), in national test and GCSE results, and the achievements of children in care.

It is the third year in a row that the DfES has admitted "slippage" on the majority of school targets on which there is enough evidence to assess progress.

Last year's annual report found that just three out of 14 were likely to be met. In 2004, the department reported that it expected to miss 16 out of 29 targets for schools.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "This is a sorry tale. If the Government sticks with the current high-stakes testing regime, it will not meet its targets."

But the DfES is ahead on its commitment to reduce truancy rates and increase the amount of time five to 16-year-olds spend on PE and sport.

It is also on course to meet its goal of reducing the number of schools in which fewer than 65 per cent of 11-year-olds achieve the expected level 4 in national English and maths tests by 40 per cent.

The target to have 60 per cent of 16-year-olds achieving five A*-C grade GCSEs by 2008 is also likely to be met.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the Government needed to be much clearer about the targets.

"You can't sensibly use aspirational targets for accountability purposes, but that unfortunately is what the Government seems to do," he said.

A DfES spokesman said: "Even where slippage is reported, there has still been substantial progress against where the Government started. For example, standards of 11-year-olds in English and maths are at highest-ever levels.

"While there is more to do, this represents success, not failure, in improving education and the life-chances of people in this country."



Target: 85 per cent of 11-year-olds achieving level 4 or above in English and maths tests by 2006.

Reality: In 2005, 79 per cent achieved the benchmark in English; 75 per cent did so in maths

Target: 85 per cent of 14-year-olds achieving level 5 or above in national English, maths and ICT tests by 2007, and 80 per cent in science.

Reality: In 2005, 74 per cent achieved the benchmark in English; 74 per cent in maths; 69 per cent in ICT; and 70 per cent in science.

Target: All secondary schools to have at least half of 14-year-olds achieving level 5 or above in maths, English and science tests by 2008.

Reality: In 2005, 410 secondaries failed to reach the benchmarks.

Target: A quarter of 16-year-olds in every secondary school achieving five or more A*-C grade GCSEs by 2006, and 30 per cent by 2008.

Reality: In 2005, 112 secondary schools had fewer than a quarter of pupils reaching the benchmark.

Target: 90 per cent of pupils to reach level 4 in English and maths by the age of 12, by 2007.

Reality: In 2005, 84 per cent reached level 4 in English, and 79 per cent in maths.

Target: The proportion of 16-year-olds gaining five A*-C grade GCSEs to rise by 2 percentage points per year on average between 2002 and 2006.

Reality: In 2002, 51.6 per cent achieved the benchmark, rising to 52.9 in 2003, 53.7 in 2004 and 56.3 in 2005, making an average annual rise of 1.57 percentage points.

Target: To narrow the achievement gap between children who have been in care for at least a year and their peers, so that by 2006:

* English and maths results for 11-year-olds in care reach at least 60 per cent of the results of their peers.

Reality: In 2005, the figure was 52 per cent.

* No more than 10 per cent of pupils in care for at least a year reach school leaving age without sitting a GCSE-equivalent exam.

Reality: In 2005, 36 per cent did so.

* The proportion of 16-year-olds in care gaining five A*-C grade GCSEs or the equivalent to rise by an average of 4 percentage points each year from 2002.

Reality: In 2002, the proportion was 7.5 per cent, rising to 8.7 in 2003, 9.4 in 2004 and 10.8 in 2005, making an average annual rise of 1.1 percentage points.

* In all local authorities, at least 15 per cent of children in care gaining five A*-C grade GCSEs or the equivalent.

Reality: In 2005, only 25 per cent of local authorities reached the benchmark.

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