The English education system should be ambitious about the outcomes that can be achieved by the end of primary school. A high autonomy/high accountability model of schooling is the best way to raise standards. Much attention has been paid to increasing school autonomy: academisation, free schools and streamlining the national curriculum being examples. Now government is turning its attention to the critical area of reforming headline primary school accountability measures following on from its recent reforms to secondary school accountability. Under government’s proposals, from 2016 there will be two alternative headline measures. Either 85% of a school’s pupils must achieve the expected standards in all of reading, writing and mathematics, or pupils must demonstrate satisfactory progress in those subjects, accounting for their starting points at the beginning of primary school.
This report considers these two proposed measures against the government’s own core goals for the education system of securing the best possible outcomes for all children and ‘closing the gap’ between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and the rest. It finds that the progress measure is both much better- aligned with the government’s core goals and also a much fairer measure of school performance.