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Hundreds of 'coasting' schools to face tougher targets

New definition of coasting schools set out by Nicky Morgan paves the way for government intervention

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 30, 2015 | People, policy, politics

Today, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan defined ‘coasting’ schools as those where fewer than 60% of pupils achieve five A*-C grades at GCSE and are not making sufficient progress between key stage three and four. In primary schools, this applies to those with less than 85% of children achieving level four and making insufficient progress between age seven and 11.

Hundreds of schools could be affected, based on their results over three years – even those currently rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted. They will face tougher targets and scrutiny while being helped to improve.

Nicky Morgan told the BBC: 'I'm unapologetic about shining a spotlight on complacency.

'For too long a group of coasting schools, many in leafy areas with more advantages than schools in disadvantaged communities, have fallen beneath the radar.'

The plans are part of the new Education and Adoption Bill and aim to raise standards in schools where exam results have the potential to be much higher.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, the largest professional association for school leaders said: “It was wrong to talk about coasting schools without first defining what a coasting school is; it created unnecessary fear. We’ve pressed for a definition and now we have it. The first comment is that – at this moment – there are no coasting schools. A school will only be judged as coasting on three years’ worth of results from 2014-2016, so we won’t know who is coasting until the autumn of 2016.”

For those who fail to make progress, academisation could be the answer. New leadership and independence from the local authority has given many schools a new lease of life across the country, but it may not be a guarantee of success for schools needing improvement.

Hobby continued: “Forced academisation is only on the cards after all other options for improvement have been exhausted. Our concern is how this process will work. Will it be open and transparent, with clear notification and a real opportunity for the school to make its case? This is essential if the measures for coasting schools are to be seen as supportive rather than punitive.”

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