‘Don’t move the goalposts’, heads urge Ministers

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A LEADING head teachers’ union has warned against the Government moving the goalposts on schools after league tables showed a dramatic drop in those missing targets this year.

Nationally the proportion of children who achieved at least the expected standard – level four – in reading was up three percentage points to 87 per cent while in maths it was up four to 84 per cent.

There was also a six point rise in pupils who made the grade in both English and maths to 79 per cent and the number of schools below the floor target more than halved both nationally and in Yorkshire.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), cautioned Ministers against making changes to the floor target.

“There is a danger that every time schools meet a goal that they shift the goalposts,” he said.

He also dismissed concerns that the rise in performance levels was because this year writing ability was based on teacher assessment rather than an externally marked test.

“What I would say is that this year the marks were accurate, and it is a fair reflection of accurate performance.”

This year’s combined English score is made up of the reading test and teacher assessment of writing, although the Department for 
Education has said a new written test will be introduced next 

Mr Hobby also said that since the majority of primaries are not academies, this year’s results show that schools can improve “no matter what their status”.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the results “reflect the hard work of children 
and their teachers in all 

She added: “England’s schools have been shown to be doing well both nationally and internationally over the past week.

“Michael Gove needs to cease painting a picture of doom and gloom in education and stop to reflect on the successes of the system instead of constantly dreaming up new changes.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, praised pupils performance but called for the league tables to be stopped.

The NUT and the NAHT held a boycott of the standard assessment tests two years ago in protest over the impact they have on the teaching profession.

She added: “It is a reflection of teachers’ hard work with all pupils that despite the goalposts being moved the results for level four in the combined English and maths score have improved for yet another year.

“It proves that all primary schools have the capacity to improve without a change to academy status. Strong leadership, teaching and teamwork are at the core of good schools.”

Councillors and directors responsible for schools across the region have praised the performance of pupils. North Yorkshire County Council education bosses did so weeks after the authority was singled out for criticism by Michael Gove.

In a letter to MPs in North Yorkshire Mr Gove suggested the county’s school system was failing successive pupils. The Education Secretary warned there were too many under-performing primary schools in North Yorkshire and blamed the Conservative-run county council for failing to help turn them into academies.

At the time the council’s executive member for schools, Coun Arthur Barker,said it was a “gross distortion of the facts” to claim the system in North Yorkshire was failing pupils. Yesterday he said: “The vast majority of North Yorkshire schools perform very well and outcomes for their pupils are very good. A very small number of our 323 primaries have faced particular difficulties which both they and the local authority are addressing.”

The council said the performance of children from deprived backgrounds in North Yorkshire has increased at a faster rate than the national average.