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Minister warns primary schools: ‘Improve or you will become academies’
THE Government could force 10 Oxfordshire primary schools to become academies next year if they do not meet tough new targets.
From 2014, primary schools must ensure that at least 65 per cent of their 11-year-old pupils score Level 4 or higher, the standard expected of the age group in English and maths, and meet national progress measures.
Currently schools are expected to ensure that 60 per cent of pupils meet the benchmark and meet progress measures.
According to last year’s Key Stage 2 tables, 10 county primary schools scored under 65 per cent and would slip below the new floor standard because they also do not meet the progress measures.
They are Bayards Hill, in Barton; Berinsfield Primary School; Botley Primary School; East Oxford Primary; Harwell Primary School; Horspath Primary School; South Stoke Primary School; St Christopher’s in Cowley; St Joseph’s Primary in Carterton and St Laurence in Warborough.
Schools Minister David Laws said schools which fall below the new floor, and particularly those with a long history of underperformance, face being taken over by a sponsor.
But three headteachers have hit back and accused the Government of “shifting the goalposts”.
The headteacher of St Christopher’s School in Cowley, Alison Holden, said: “It seems that the goalposts are constantly being moved, and the Government will come in and start throwing words like ‘special measures’ and ‘academy’ around at us.
“We’ve gone through all the special measures processes and come out the other side thriving. The Government has raised targets before, it is not a new thing.
“It is something we are used to and I am confident we’ll see scores in the early 90 per cent this time.”
Harwell School head Peter Cansell said it was a “flawed” way to measure education levels.
He said: “The floor targets are only one measure of progress when you look at the various measures of progress.
“We’ve had children come in, one from Hungary who cannot speak English at all. What hope does that give anyone of passing the grade?
“If you look at the size of the class one child can account for five per cent, which is very misleading.
“I guarantee we will pass the floor target and am confident we should be well above.”
And head of Horspath School Emma Coleman pointed to the school’s ‘good’ October 2012 Ofsted rating. She said: “In small schools like ours with small cohorts, where each pupil represents five per of the overall results for the school, our place in yearly league tables can understandably vary considerably.”
Mr Laws said: “The figures do not lie – a pupil who manages a low Level 4 by the end of primary school is unlikely to go on to achieve five good GCSEs.
“So it is only right that we show whether schools are getting their pupils truly ‘secondary ready’ – or simply just over the Level 4 threshold. A school which thinks that scraping a Level 4 is a success is not in the right place.”
The other seven schools refused to comment when contacted.
HOW THEY MEASURE UP
Percentage of pupils achieving Level 4+ in English and maths in 2012:
- Bayards Hill: 50 per cent
- Berinsfield: 57 per cent
- Botley: 64 per cent
- East Oxford: 64 per cent
- Harwell: 64 per cent
- Horspath: 63 per cent
- South Stoke: 33 per cent
- St Christopher’s: 63 per cent
- St Joseph’s, Carterton: 50 per cent
- St Laurence: 50 per cent
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