Secretary of State announces new Primary Assessment plans – Friday 21 October 2016

This week I report on the Secretary of State’s announcement on new primary assessment plans including confirming there will be no Year 7 resits, the publication of technical guidance which defines what is a coasting school and how the DfE is calculating primary progress measures and a new on-line toolkit to measure and monitor children and young people’s mental wellbeing.

Primary Assessment plans
Earlier this week Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, announced that new plans had been drawn up to improve and simplify assessment arrangements given that the pace and scale of assessment changes “has been stretching”.

Whilst statutory Maths and reading resits are not being introduced for pupils in Year 7, resit papers will be made available for teachers to use as part of ongoing assessments. The Government has also said it will be introducing a targeted package of support for struggling pupils.

Under the new plans, the Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test will remain non-statutory for schools this year and there will be no new national tests or assessments introduced before the 2018/19 academic year.

Primary School accountability in 2016
This week the DfE updated the main technical guidance document with a ‘coasting’ schools definition and updated the summary document with further information about how it calculates primary progress measures.

Its proposed definition of a ‘coasting’ school is based on the same performance measures that underpin the floor standards. Therefore, in 2016, a primary school will be coasting if:

  • it meets the 2014 part of the definition of fewer than 85% of pupils achieving level 4 in English reading, English writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils making expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics; and
  • it meets the 2015 parts of the definition – of fewer than 85% of pupils achieving level 4 in English reading, English writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils making expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics; and
  • it also meets the 2016 part of the definition – if fewer than 85% of children achieve the expected standard at the end of primary and average progress made by pupils is below -2.5 in English reading or -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in English writing.

A school will have to be below the coasting definition in 3 consecutive years to be defined as coasting and no school will be identified as coasting until after the 2016 primary performance tables are published in December. Schools will be excluded from the coasting measure if:

  • they have fewer than 11 pupils at the end of key stage 2; or less than 50% of pupils have key stage 1 assessments that can be used to establish prior attainment; or
  • the school closes within the academic year (except if they reopen as a converter academy).

Subject to Parliament agreeing to the Regulations, the coasting definition will apply to all mainstream maintained schools and academies with the relevant key stage 2 data. It will not apply to PRUs, special schools and academies, alternative provision academies or maintained nursery schools.

New online toolkit to measure and monitor children and young people’s mental wellbeing
A free, online toolkit to measure and monitor children and young people’s mental wellbeing was launched for schools last week. The development of the toolkit was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) and led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF).

According to AFNCCF, half of all diagnosable mental health disorders are established by the age of 14 and figures published last month by the Office for National Statistics showed the highest number of suicides by 15 to 19 year olds since 1998.

The toolkit aims to support school staff by highlighting a range of validated tools to measure and monitor student mental wellbeing alongside real-life case studies. In turn, school leaders can use the information gathered to assess and develop the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils, a key judgement area within the Ofsted inspection framework.