Pupils to face new progression measures

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter


Three new measures of pupils' progress are to be introduced to hold head teachers and ministers to account.

New "readiness to progress" measures will be introduced at ages five and 11 to ensure children have the required skills to move on to the next stage of schooling.

And a new "basics measure" is to be introduced for pupils at age 16.

Parents will also be given more details about schools, their teachers and the pupils attending them.

This will include general details of teachers' qualifications and pay, the number of pupils on free school meals and with special educational needs, the amount spent per pupil, and how many achieve the new measures.

'Three Rs'

An outline of these steps has been set out in the new business plan just published by the Department for Education.

All government departments have published their plans.

Consultation has already begun on the new "readiness to progress" measures, with the results due to be published in April 2011.

This new assessment for five-year-olds is expected to be based on the Early Years Foundation Stage profile, which has been much criticised as requiring too much formal learning too soon.

It is currently being reviewed by Children's Minister Sarah Teather.

The new measure for 11-year-olds will be designed to ensure they have the basic command of the "three Rs" that they need to be able to progress to secondary school, a department spokesman said.

Children already take national curriculum tests, known commonly as Sats, at age 11.

It comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove announced last week an official review of these tests at the end of primary school, known as Key Stage 2.

About a quarter of primary schools in England boycotted the tests last year, saying they objected to the way the results were used in league tables, and led schools to "teach to the test" too much.

Mr Gove said: "We must continue to allow parents to know how their local primary schools are performing.

"Raising standards and narrowing gaps are the central goals of the government's education policy.

"It is not our intention that the accountability system should be punitive or unfair to schools working in difficult circumstances but it must be able to identify and tackle cases of sustained underperformance."

Poor pupils

The business plan also pledges to give parents more information on schools generally to aid the school choice process.

It says: "We plan to develop tools to enable parents to make more effective use of data, for example in choosing a school for their child.

"Making more data available in an open and accessible format will enable the market to develop new products that will help the public to hold both their local services and the department to account."

Information will be given on the qualifications teachers hold, what they earn, how many are full or part-time and on teacher absence in each school.

Sensitive information on teacher pay and qualification is likely to be set out in a range of bands rather than be pinpointed to individual teachers.

Pupil characteristics

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: "What parents are concerned about is what the school outcomes are, and there are many ways you can find out the outcomes for a school."

She added that governors could provide school budgets, with information on staff and non-staff costs.

And more details will be given on the characteristics of pupils, such as free school meal entitlement (a measure of poverty), special educational needs and pupil age.

There will also be information on how many pupils in each school qualify for the pupil premium. This is a new way of channelling extra money to schools with children from poorer backgrounds.

But there are still few details of how much this will be in the next few years or where it will come from.

Deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Martin Johnson said: "Requiring vast streams of data to be collected will add to the paperwork produced by schools and increase the bureaucracy in education.

"Teacher qualifications don't equate to the quality of teaching, so it is hard to see what use that information will be to parents."

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