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NAHT comment on early data from 2017 KS2 SATS

Today, the Department for Education (DfE) has published a Statistical First Release containing further data about KS2 attainment. The data confirms that more pupils reached both the expected standard and higher standard in reading, writing and mathematics.

NAHT’s analysis of the data shows that attainment has increased for both genders but that girls continue to outperform boys. Attainment levels in mainstream academies and free schools as a group are very similar to those in local authority maintained mainstream schools.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, comments: “This data is a useful indication of school performance but it is not the whole story. This should be a moment of reflection for schools but instead it is a moment of fear. In the past we have seen how data alone has led to schools being incorrectly and unhelpfully labelled as ‘failing’ or ‘coasting’.

“NAHT would like the government to adopt fairer methods to hold schools to account, recognising that test results are only part of the picture when judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness. Our campaigning has so far secured significant successes to improve statutory assessment. For example, this year’s KS2 reading test was noticeably better in its design, making it more accessible for all children.

“We’ve been working with the DfE for many months on securing improvements to the primary assessment regime. Shelving proposals for Year 7 students to re-sit KS2 SATs was a big step forward and our call for a full review of assessment was fulfilled with the publication of the consultations on primary assessment and the Rochford Review.

“We have secured a commitment from the Government that schools will not face intervention solely on the basis of writing data. In addition, where a school is below the floor standard or coasting because of writing only, no intervention will follow. More broadly, we have assurances from the Secretary of State that data should only be the starting point for a conversation about school performance and that no single piece of data will be used to determine any decision on intervention, either in 2017 or beyond.

“We expect that the DfE, Ofsted, RSCs, local authorities and school governors should look at a range of information, alongside the school's broader context and performance history, rather than a narrow focus on data to hold schools to account. We will continue our dialogue with these groups in order to secure fairer measures to recognise pupils’ successes and schools’ effectiveness.”

First published 15 December 2017