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Ministers consider ranking pupils

Primary school pupils could be ranked against their peers across the country under new plans being considered by ministers.

The Government has put forward proposals for new measures which would see youngsters put into 10% bands or deciles, based on their achievements. Parents would be told their child's position, for example that they are in the top 10% in the country in a particular subject.

The move is one of a package of measures set out by ministers which they say will help to raise the bar on achievement in primaries and ensure that youngsters are ready for secondary school.

Schools face being labelled as underperforming if they fail to ensure that more pupils reach higher standards in English and maths tests and 11-year-olds will be expected to gain higher results in their national curriculum tests. Primaries will need to make sure that more of their pupils are reaching these new tougher standards, or face instant Ofsted inspections and being singled out for improvement measures.

The Government is also consulting on bringing in a new "baseline assessment" to ensure children are making progress, which could be "a simple check of a child's ability" in their first weeks of compulsory schooling, or maintaining existing teacher-marked tests at age seven.

The current system requires that children reach Level 4 in English and maths at the end of primary school, with primaries expected to ensure that 65% of their pupils achieve this standard. They are also measured on the progress they make between ages seven and 11. But ministers are proposing that from 2016, schools will need to have at least 85% of their students reaching the new higher standard.

The plans, outlined by Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, contain measures to scrap national curriculum levels and introduce a new scoring system which is used in international tests.

Primary schools are also set to be given hundreds of pounds more for each poor child to help improve standards among disadvantaged youngsters. Mr Clegg announced that the pupil premium - cash for disadvantaged school-age children which is aimed at raising achievement - is to rise to £1,300 per eligible primary pupil in 2014/15 compared with £900 this year.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said: "A fairer, more accurate way of measuring pupils' ability at the end of primary school is certainly needed. I am not convinced that ranking 11-year-olds will help to raise standards. There are better ways of making it clear to parents and children what they should be achieving at the end of primary school. I worry what will happen to those children who have tried hard yet are told that they are in one of the bottom bands. Children at that age mature differently and their confidence can be easily damaged. It could make secondary teachers' job in building self-esteem and confidence even more difficult."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "Labour wants a clear system to measure the progress pupils make throughout primary school and drive up standards. But the Government's approach looks confused. Last week they got rid of the curriculum levels which measured pupil progress. How will they determine how well children are doing between age five and age 11 without national expectations of learning outcomes?"


From Belfast Telegraph