Council ‘disappointed’ by results of tougher new SATs

Councillor Christine Field
Councillor Christine Field
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Less than half of the county’s primary school children met the expected standards in the tougher Key Stage 2 SATs.

The provisional results of the first SATs since the introduction of a new and more demanding system were published last week and saw just 45 per cent of West Sussex children make the grade in reading, writing and maths.

The national average was 53 per cent.

The figure was described as “disappointing” by Councillor Christine Field, who is serving as acting cabinet member for education and skills until Councillor Richard Burrett recovers from illness.

She added: “They are not where we want or need them to be and we know more needs to be done to improve educational outcomes for our children.

“We have appointed a new director of education and skills from September 2016 who is experienced in best practice school improvement and who will work in partnership with our schools to improve their performance.”

Last year’s Key Stage 2 results saw 77 per cent of children meet the expected standards – but the county council and the Department for Education have said the results are “not comparable” as they were achieved using two entirely different systems of assessment.

A council spokesman said: “The Key Stage 2 curriculum changed in 2014 and the tests and assessment processes applied in 2016 are different from those in previous years so comparisons are meaningless.

“When changes of this scale take place it usually takes several years to embed them and establish confidence in outcomes.

“However, when changes like this do occur nationally, we need to make sure we are able to meet the challenges they pose locally and the new benchmarks much faster.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the results showed there was “no limit to our children’s potential” and added schools had “once again risen to the challenge of ensuring children meet new higher standards”.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), though, was less impressed.

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary, said of the figures: “They are the outcome of a process that 97 per cent of teachers, in a recent NUT survey, found seriously mismanaged.

“In the judgment of teachers, assessment arrangements in 2016 have been ‘shambolic’, ‘a fiasco’, ‘a disgrace’, ‘farcical’.”

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