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News - 7 March 2013

Primary schools face tougher targets

Next year schools will need to have 65% of pupils achieving the expected levels in English and maths, up from 60%, which could result in hundreds of primary schools in England being labelled as underperforming.
Schools Minister David Laws wants pupils to be "secondary ready" when they leave primary school.

However, head teachers' leader Russell Hobby accused ministers of "shifting goal posts" to chase "easy headlines".

If schools continue to "consistently underperform" below this target they could be required to become academies.

Mary Bousted, head of the ATL teachers' union, described the change as "a cynical attempt to force even more schools into becoming academies".

Peter Ham Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“The increased target will apply to 11-year-olds taking their Sats tests in spring 2014. Based on last year's results, there would have been 866 schools below the minimum target of 65% compared to the 476 schools below the 60% threshold.”

But a Department for Education spokesman says that past experience suggests results will improve when targets are set higher.

In the tests taken in spring 2012, the national average was 79% for pupils achieving the expected levels for English and maths.

The expected level in Sats test is Level 4 - but these levels are themselves set to be scrapped. The current date for introducing a replacement way of describing progress is 2016, says a Department for Education spokesman.

Russell Hobby of the National Association of Head Teachers said:
"England's primary schools have been improving steadily for many years, nearly doubling the rate of children leaving with the expected standards: there is no lack of ambition. The expected reward for that performance is always a shifting of the goal posts."

Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers said: "This move is more about forcing primary schools into academy conversion than it is about 'standards'.

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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