Pressure to Raise Standards

March 7th, 2011

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, has written to all academy sponsors warning them that those schools eligible for intervention action, where performance “just isn’t good enough”,  will now be assessed as those where under 60% (previously it was 55%) of children achieve less than basic level (level 4) in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary school (Key Stage 2), unless the children make better than average progress between Key Stages 1 and 2 in which case they will be “exempt” from falling below this “floor standard”.  He also warned that the floor standard will rise further in future.  At secondary school level the floor standard will not be met unless at least 35% of pupils (previously it was 30%) achieve five GCSEs, including English and maths, at grade A*-C; unless the children at the school are making better than average progress between ages 11 and 16 (Key Stages 2-4).  Academy sponsors have until 15 April 2011 to send their written proposals to the Department, where they will be pored over by officials and discussed with the sponsors.  The Secretary of State has also written in similar vein to local authorities, requiring them also to present their written plans for improvements to schools, other than academies, by 15 April next.  This latest attempt to ratchet up pressure on education providers to raise standards in publicly funded schools may be a precursor to increased statutory intervention in schools regarded as failing.

Tim Kerr QC

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