In the autumn term the Department for Education set out a new measure for accountability in schools regarding the end of key stage 2 tests, called the ‘coasting definition’. In previous years the measure was based on floor targets which Moorside Junior met, including the floor standards for 2016.
Governors and leaders at Moorside Junior School have identified why the school has met the definition this year, which was due to the progress in writing for a small group of children. Last year the new assessment criteria for writing was very late in being published to schools, and there was insufficient time to address some of the limiting criteria around spellings for some of our children. There is currently much debate in education as to the validity of teacher assessments for writing and the school does not believe that the coasting definition has been applied fairly, since our results in reading and maths, especially for our higher achievers was good.
The school’s governors and leaders have written to the Regional Schools Commissioner to explain the school’s point of view regarding the definition and are waiting for a reply. The outcome from the commissioner can be one of three options:
- No additional support as they believe the school is supporting pupils well.
- No additional support as the school already has a sufficient plan and the capacity to improve.
- To provide additional support to benefit the school and outcomes of children, such as working with a National Leader of Education or through a partnership with other schools.
The school is currently supported by a literacy consultant, Mrs Hughes, funded by the Local Authority, focussing on developing a skills based writing curriculum.
Extract taken from: Primary school accountability in 2016 A technical guide for primary maintained schools, academies and free schools January 2017
Coasting schools definition
The Education and Adoption Act 2016 allows the Department to identify, support and take action in coasting schools for the first time. These are schools where, over time, pupils do not fulfil their potential.
In January 2017 the Department published regulations setting out a three year definition of coasting 5 based on the same performance measures that underpin the floor standards. This year a primary school will fall within the coasting definition if:
- In 2014 fewer than 85% of pupils achieved level 4 in English reading, English Writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils achieved expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics;
- In 2015 fewer than 85% of pupils achieved level 4 in English reading, English Writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils achieved expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics,
- In 2016 fewer than 85% of pupils achieve the expected standard at the end of primary schools and average progress made by pupils is less than -2.5 in English reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in English writing.
A school will have to be below the relevant coasting threshold in all three years to fall within the overall coasting definition.
The coasting definition will apply to all mainstream maintained schools and academies with the relevant key stage 2 data.
Once a school has fallen within the coasting definition, Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) will engage the school to consider its wider context, and decide whether additional support is needed. Action will not be automatic and the focus will be on helping schools to improve in order to drive up standards.