NAHT warns raising Key Stage 2 standard won’t help close the attainment gap

NAHT congratulates school leaders but warns raising the Key Stage 2 standard is not going to help close the attainment gap

The DfE has published revised data about attainment in the 2017 Key Stage 2 national curriculum assessment results for pupils in schools in England. The data confirms that more pupils reached both the expected standard and higher standard in reading, writing and mathematics.

School leaders’ union NAHT welcomed the results, with Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT saying, “We congratulate school leaders on an excellent performance in hugely challenging times.  The data reflects the tireless efforts of school leaders throughout the year in preparing young people for these assessments.  The results also highlight some of the issues faced by head teachers and school leaders in delivering high standards of education.”

NAHT’s analysis of the data shows that 43% of Free School Meals (FSM) pupils achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 64% of all other pupils (a difference of 21 percentage points). This attainment gap between FSM pupils and all other pupils has increased by one percentage point compared to 2016.

Paul Whiteman continued: “This data is a useful indication of school performance but it is not the whole story. One thing it does do though, is confirm what NAHT has been saying for a long time about social mobility.

“Raising the Key Stage 2 standard was not going to help close the gap. The issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve. A joined-up approach is what we’ve been calling for, and we’ve welcomed the government’s recent report, ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’, which echoes many of the points made by NAHT in recent years.”

“There is also more that can be done to support pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who have the largest attainment gap when compared to those without any identified SEN. The report states that many SEN children are not meeting the expected standard which does nothing to recognise the achievements of these children, who, with the support of their schools, may have made outstanding progress in their learning. For this to continue and improve, we need the government’s help.”

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“A consequence of the current funding crisis is that many schools are being forced to reduce teaching assistant posts used to support pupils with SEN.  Similarly, Special Schools that have funded specialist and therapeutic services for their pupils to cover gaps in local authority provision and healthcare provision now find that this is no longer sustainable.”

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