Government announces new standards to support pupils to reach their potential

Extra support for schools with pupils working below the national curriculum has been announced to help all children reach their potential

Extra support for schools with pupils working below the national curriculum to help all children reach their potential has been announced by Education Minister, Nick Gibb.

Currently, a small number of pupils are unable to work to the standard of the national curriculum, with many of these pupils having special educational needs.

The pre-key stage standards have been developed with teachers and a range of other education experts and will help ensure these pupils are better supported to transition onto the national curriculum, when and if they are ready to do so. It will also give schools the information they need to make sure these children are realising their full potential, giving them the freedom to develop their own curriculum and assessments to meet the needs of their pupils.

The change follows a public consultation last year in response to the recommendations made by the independent Rochford Review which called for these standards to be introduced, replacing the outdated ‘P scales’ attainment targets for pupils with special educational needs.

Academic standards are rising for all pupils thanks to the hard work of teachers and the government’s reforms, with 1.9 million more children now in good and outstanding schools than in 2010.

The announcement builds on a range of measures to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special educational needs and disabilities, including the recent confirmation that 14 new special free schools will be created across the country, delivering more than 1,100 high-quality school places for children with learning needs.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, no matter what challenges they face. The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by 10 per cent and almost 222,000 children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities are now receiving tailored support thanks to our Education, Health and Care plans.

“Today’s publication will help ensure pupils with these additional needs are better supported to transition onto the national curriculum, if and when they are ready to do so. It builds on the significant progress we have made over the last four years to make sure all children and young people with educational needs, and their families, have access to excellent support to help guide them through school.”

Diane Rochford, chair of the Rochford Review, said: “As an executive head of a special school in the Learning in Harmony Trust, I strongly believe that every child’s achievements should be celebrated and progress in all forms should be recognised. These pre-key stage standards will help to recognise what pupils can do in relation to the national curriculum, while removing P scales will liberate schools to develop their own curriculum and assessments which meet the needs of their pupils.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Every child has the right to see their progress properly recognised in school. NAHT supported the Rochford Review’s principle that the assessment for pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum should align with the new national curriculum and we endorsed the decision to undertake a review of the pre-key stage standards, involving curriculum and assessment experts from the special and mainstream sectors.

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“The new standards are an improvement on what we had before. They offer a more inclusive statutory assessment system, where all pupils are able to transition onto the national curriculum if and when they are ready.”

Claire Owens, teacher at Red Oaks Primary School involved in trialling the standards, said: “As a teacher of children with complex needs the review and extension of the pre-key stage standards has been very welcome indeed, as they are now inclusive of all of our learners. Previously, there had not been a meaningful way of assessing our pupils at the end of key stages, so it has been a pleasure to be involved in the pilot to ensure that they actually reflect the learners in our classrooms.”

The announcement builds on the government’s ongoing support for the most disadvantaged families, including the provision of free school meals to 1.1 million of the most disadvantaged children, and the £2.5bn funding given to schools through the Pupil Premium to support their education. The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers has already shrunk by 10% at GCSE and 10.5% at KS2 since 2011.

The high needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is the highest on record at £6 billion this year and core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion by 2020 – a 50% real terms per pupil increase from 2000.

The introduction of the pre key stage standards at key stage 1 and key stage 2follows the news last week that the department has confirmed three contracts with organisations and charities that will work with families and young people, making sure they have the right support for their educational needs, including:

  • £20m contract with the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to provide families and young people with SEND with impartial advice, support and information about the services and support on offer;
  • £3.8m contract with Contact, in partnership with KIDS and the Council for Disabled Children, to promote and develop strategic participation by young people and parent carers; and
  • Nasen and University College London (UCL), on behalf of the Whole School SEND consortium, have been awarded the SEND school workforce contract worth £3.4m over two years to embed SEND within the school led system of School Improvement in order to equip the workforce to deliver high quality teaching across all types of SEND.

Alongside the new contracts, the Department has developed new tools in partnership with a SEND stakeholder group to create a job description and specification for Level 3 Early Years Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs). The products will be hosted on Nasen and Action for Children’s websites:

  • Foundation Years
  • SEND Gateway
  • Action for Children have produced EY SENCO case studies, showing examples of good practice in early years settings. These can be found at here.

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