Schools fall short in tough new tests

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Eleven primary schools in East Sussex failed to reach the expected standards following the summer's tough new tests.

The Department for Education (DfE) published revised league tables on Thursday (December 15), showing how the country's 11-year-olds had performed during their SATs.

To reach the DfE's 'floor' standard, 65 per cent of pupils in each school had to reach the expected level in maths, reading and writing - or schools needed to be making sufficient progress in those three subjects. Eleven of the county's primary schools failed to do so.

In East Sussex overall, only 52 per cent of children were judged to have made the grade - 55 per cent of girls and 48 per cent of boys.

But school leaders' union the NAHT slammed the data as "not worth the paper it is written on".

General secretary Russell Hobby said the tables should not have been published and added: "This year we saw the SATs system descend into chaos and confusion. Delayed and obscure guidance, papers leaked online, mistakes in test papers and inconsistent moderation made this year unmanageable for school leaders, teachers, parents and pupils.

“The data gathered in primary assessment during 2016 is misleading. We warned the government that publishing this data in league tables could lead the public and parents to make poor judgements about a school’s performance, but it has still chosen to do so.”

The children who took the SATs in the summer were the first to be tested under the new National Curriculum, which came into effect in 2014. As such, they had received two years' education under the old curriculum.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “The 2016 Key Stage 2 results have led to many wide variations in the results across the country. East Sussex is not exempt from these and we can see wide variation across the local authority’s schools.

“The outcomes for Early Years and Key Stage 1 children were extremely positive across East Sussex, with significant improvements in both areas, the result of many of the school support arrangements already put in place.

“Key Stage 2 is somewhat different in that a new curriculum was introduced during the pupils’ time in the Key Stage as well as new assessment procedures introduced in the summer term.

“Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, has confirmed that no school should be judged on this year’s data alone and that it is not comparable with previous years’ outcomes.

“Nationally, only 53 per cent of state-funded schools in the country measured up to the government’s expectations.

“The percentage figures released today show East Sussex 1 per cent below the national figure for state-funded schools in reading, writing and maths combined.

“Reading progress is above national rates with writing and maths just below.”

The spokesman said wide-ranging support for schools had been planned. This included:

• Working within education improvement partnerships to increase schools’ capacity to address under-performance through the development of lead professionals.

• Commissioning high quality support from a range of providers including teaching schools.

• A dedicated adviser programme which provides bespoke advice and guidance to improve outcomes for children.

• The development of lead English and Mathematics teachers who will provide school-to-school support.

The spokesman added: “East Sussex parents should continue to have confidence that the local authority and schools will build on the success to date in significantly increasing the number of schools to be graded as 'good' or 'outstanding' by Ofsted so that East Sussex is now above national figures.

“There is much to celebrate in the 2016 results, where more schools improved their position in the East Sussex rankings.

“However, the local authority and headteachers will be relentless in their allocation and use of resources to deliver an excellent education for all.”

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