Fury at Sats rule change

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RAISING the bar for primary schools has been met with anger on Wearside.

Schools Minister David Laws has said that from next year primary schools will need to ensure 65 per cent of pupils achieve level 4 or above in maths and English, compared to the current 60 per cent.

If they do not meet this new target, they will be labelled as under-performing.

Schools which “consistently under-perform” could be required to become academies.

Judging by the Sats results for last year, the move could have a detrimental effect on several Sunderland and County Durham schools where the Key Stage 2 Sats results were on the borderline.

These include Southwick Community Primary School, where 61 per cent of children clinched a level 4 in both maths and English.

Trish Stoker, headteacher at the Shakespeare Street school, said: “It is just extra pressure on schools like ourselves who are putting so much into raising attainment. We have been rated good with outstanding features by Ofsted. It is about supporting the whole child.

“We are working to full capacity to get the very best for our children, and all schools do that.

“These decisions are being made by people who are too far removed from reality.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “Everybody wants to raise standards at primary school, but you need to address the reasons for low standards rather than just shift the goalposts.

“Unfortunately, cutbacks to pre-school funding, as well as to targeted intervention programmes to get children up to speed on numeracy and literacy, will make it harder for schools to improve standards, not easier.

“You therefore have to wonder whether shifting this target is just a ploy to force more primary schools to become academies.”

However, Councillor Robert Oliver, Tory spokesman for education in Sunderland, said: “Governments of all colours have consistently increased the targets schools have to meet in line with improving results and this measure demands more of schools, but also offers considerable resources in the pupil premium.

“It would be wrong for targets to remain static when the majority of schools are meeting them, with challenge being a key responsibility of school governors and a main driver of improvement.

“In Sunderland, schools will receive £11million in pupil premium money next year and it is vital that the gap between pupils of differing backgrounds narrows in all schools as it is already doing in many of our city’s schools.”

This new target will apply to 11-year-olds taking their Sats tests in spring 2014.

Twitter: @sunechoschools