Criteria for floor standards
The criteria are a combination of both attainment and progress measures. Not either/or. Some Las seem to have been picking and choosing their criteria, which is wrong. Using the detail below, NAHT have been able to get 20 schools lifted above the floor standard in one LA alone.
The progress threshold is the national median of pupils making two levels of progress between KS1 and KS2. This is 87% in English and 86% in Maths. They are not, to the best of our knowledge, looking at reading, writing, etc. separately.
However, you must be below the median in BOTH subjects to be under the floor. If EITHER subject is above the median you are NOT below the floor.
Therefore, to 'qualify' for the floor standard three conditions must all be met:
Less than 60% L4 at Maths and English AND
Less than 87% progress in English AND
Less than 86% progress in Maths
(Where progress is defined as the percentage of pupils making two or more levels between KS1 and KS2.)
There are problems with the use of ‘two levels of progress’ which need to be ironed out – particularly the distinction between full levels and sub-levels, which creates some unfairness.
In addition to this, even if a school is below the floor standard, if its trajectory is up, then it should receive a very light touch. This is good news, but there is a flip side ... If a school is just above floor standards, but is on a sustained decline, then it will still generate a lot of attention. We have no definition of trajectory or sustained decline, yet: that's the next task!
These caveats are causing some ambiguity and variability in LA responses to the so called 'vulnerable' schools. However, these schools are not below the floor standards.
Here is the DfE guidance on that last point:
"... Clearly we find that there are those below the floor which have an upwards trajectory, to which we will have a light touch attitude. Equally there are those that are just above (eg failing on 2 of the 3 measures) but slipping which common sense means LAs are likely to raise with us, and which may eventually qualify for support."
Where a school is identified as being below the floor standards there should be a diagnosis stage, followed by an action plan. The action plan should identify the support and resources a school needs to overcome the barriers it has identified. This should be a considered process, not a knee jerk attempt to convert the school to an academy or federation.
The main sources of support for these schools will be other schools, particularly Local and National Leaders of Education.
The DfE are recruiting a team of advisers who will review and challenge these action plans.
If a school finds itself in this situation, the most effective approach is to generate its own plan for improvement. Credible school plans should take priority over imposed solutions. Pick the people you want to work with, and solve the problems that you think are important. There is a role for NAHT branches here to facilitate these connections and challenge authorities where school action plans are not used as the starting point.
For those schools that boycotted SATs in 2010, the DfE message is that robust TA data must be taken into account in diagnosis and planning. You do not have to rely on 2009 data - although LAs may be using that as their entry point, it should then be replaced with the teacher assessments. Here is the DfE guidance here:
"For schools which boycotted SATs in 2010, we will use 2009 data as the baseline information on which we judge the floor target and assess primary schools for intervention. However for these schools, we will expect to take account of the 2010 Teacher Assessment data in prioritising action and judging any necessary intervention. Clearly, the reliability of these data will need to be assessed as part of this work, but in principle, all available data should be used to help to provide an up-to-date picture of progress and performance. As we work with LAs in developing their plans, we will expect LAs to build reliable 2010 data into their thinking (including considering the extent to which results have been independently assessed and/or moderated)."
If you find that schools are being unfairly or incorrectly categorised, if solutions are being imposed, and if you cannot get resolution from the LA, please contact NAHT HQ. We have contacts within the DfE that could be used to help resolve the situation. As we said above, we have successfully reduced the number of schools on the list. We have also sought out the clarity and detail above, and secured the protection for schools which boycotted.
Page Published: 29/03/2011