Morgan targets almost 3,000 schools as "coasting"

Henry Stewart's picture
Nicky Morgan has today revealed how "coasting" schools will be defined. Unexpectedly the definition does not include any element of value added. Instead both criteria (absolute KS2 or GCSE results, and levels of progress) are strongly correlated to ability at entry. Schools with a lower ability intake will therefore be much more likely to find themselves categorised as coasting. Calculations based on the DfE definitions reveal that at least 2,833 schools are likely to fit the new category.

Secondaries: 814 set to be targetted as "coasting"

The DfE definition: "For secondary schools, a school will be coasting if in 2014 and 2015 fewer than 60% of children achieve 5 A*-C including English and mathematics and they are below the median level of expected progress"

At August 2014, there were 3,019 mainstream secondary schools that had Year 11 results. Of these 814 fit the criteria above, if we use 2013 and 2014 figures, having fewer than 60% achieve 5 A-Cs including English and Maths in both the last two years, and being below the median for the "expected" three levels of progress in English (74%) and Maths (69%),

The 814 secondaries are made up of 470 maintained schools, 182 sponsored academies and 160 converter academies (and 2 others). The high level of converter academies is perhaps a surprise as these generally converted on the basis of being Good or outstanding.

Of the 814 "coasting" secondaries at least 125 had a Best 8 value added measure above the national average. However the fact they were providing positive value added does not appear to stop them being described as coasting.

Primaries: At least 2,019 set to be targetted as "coasting"

The DfE definition: "At primary level the definition will apply to those schools that for three years have seen fewer than 85% of children achieving level 4, the secondary ready standard, in reading, writing and maths and which have also seen below average proportions of pupils making expected progress between age seven and age eleven."

At August 2014 there were 14,736 primary schools with Year 6 results. Of these an estimated 2,019 achieved less than 85% for the last three years and were also below the median for the percentage achieving 2 levels of progress in Maths (93%), Reading (93%) and Writing (96%).

There is an element of uncertainty here. I have assumed that schools have to be below average in expected progress for Maths, for Reading and for Writing. If they only have to be below average for the average of these three figures, then the number of coasting schools will be much higher. The 2,019 figure is therefore the lowest likely level.

Data Sources

The calculations come directly from the DfE's release of school-level data, available here for both primary (KS2) and secondary (KS4). I have used figures for the last two years (secondary) and last three years (primary). The actual numbers of schools may differ as 2015 results will be used.
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Brian's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 08:26

Can someone clarify for me how this will work, for example at KS2, because after this year there will be no levels on which to base the 85% or the levels of progress?

agov's picture
Wed, 01/07/2015 - 10:46


Neil's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 08:27

Henry, I can't find anywhere in any of the press releases that this is 5A*-C including English and Maths all it says is five good GCSE's can you point me to where it says it is the former rather than the latter, This whole coasting schools thing is an absolute dog's breakfast.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 09:36

Neil - the actual press release says in 'Notes to editors':

'For secondary schools, a school will be coasting if in 2014 and 2015 fewer than 60% of children 5 A*-C including English and mathematics and they are below the median level of expected progress and in 2016 they fall below a level set against the new progress 8 measure. This level will be set after 2016 results are available to ensure it is set at a suitable level. A school will have to be below those levels in all three years to be defined as coasting.'

In 2013/14, the way league tables were calculated was changed. Exams which had previously counted (eg some vocational exams, some iGCSEs) no longer did so. This meant results in many schools dropped. The most spectacular being Bourne Grammar School where (officially) results plunged from the high 90s in 2012/13 to 0% in 2014/15. Nonsense, of course, the low figure was because the school used iGCSEs. If these are included then the results are still up in the high 90s. Will the DfE define Bourne Grammar as 'coasting'? If other schools are to be judged partly on GCSE results in league tables then surely there can't be any exceptions. (This shows how daft judging schools on data can be).

But the Gov't is changing the goalposts. The DfE said the floor standard in 2013/14 and 2014/15 was 40%. The Government has increased it by 20% to 50% and schools will be judged retrospectively. This means some schools could already have been 'underperforming' for two years already (including this academic year). One more year (2015/16) of results below 60% combined with low expected progress in English and maths will scoop more schools into the 'coasting' category. Many of these will, of course, be academies.

At the same time, these so-called 'underperforming' schools (on the new 60% threshold) will be judged according to the 'median level of expected progress' in these two years. The DfE said this was 73% in 2012/13 but gave no median for 2013/14 which surely must be known by now. The median for 2014/15 won't be known until after the GCSE results are out.

CORRECTION I've changed the above to make it clear the 'two years' of failure include the present academic year. My comment was ambiguous and could have been read as including 2012/13 results. Sorry for any confusion.

Barry Wise's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 09:19

This is how Schools Week reported it:

Secondary schools that fail to ensure 60 per cent of pupils achieve five A* to C GCSE grades and have a below average proportion of pupils making expected progress between key stage three and four during 2014 and 2015 will be classed as coasting, if they also fail to meet a threshold Progress 8 level in 2016. This threshold level is yet to be defined.

Isn't that different with regard to the P8?

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 09:45

Barry - our comments crossed. See my comment above for exact wording re '60%' from the DfE press release. Note the DfE has increased the threshold for under-performing'. For the last two academic years, the GCSE threshold has been 40%. The DfE has now increased it to 60%. This, combined with lower than median expected progress in maths and English, will result in a school being defined as 'coasting' and subject to intervention.

It's likely many of these will be stand-alone converter academies. I suspect these will be 'persuaded' to join multi-academy trusts. The propaganda against these has already begun. Here's an example.

Guest's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 10:19

Just for once the BBC have made an attempt to highlight that academisation is not a silver bullet. The article doesn't do any more than superficial justice to the counter arguments against academisation but it does at least scratch the surface.

Bottom line for me is that this is yet another piece of blunt politically motivated nonsense that will damage/blight the lives of pupils. I would equate it to a part political trojan horse. It's sole purpose is the quasi-privatisation of state education and removal of LAs from the education forum.

I also believe that it will militate against P8.

Guest's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 10:22

* "party political"

Neil's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 13:21

Thank you Janet, I must say the reporting on this was pretty confused this morning, perhaps because the coasting schools criteria was only released to the committee at 10:30 last night. Can I say the work you guys do here at LSN is astonishing and as a Headteacher who values my staff and the children I find you are one of the few places of sanity in this Boschian nightmare of politicised education run by swivel eyed loons like the delightful Morgan.

Keep up the hard work.

Guest's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 15:45

Ms Morgan is heading for confrontation with a clear thinking and highly positive professional association that consistently seeks dialogue and constructive ways of dealing with matters. Which one, ASCL:

"We are disappointed that this announcement has come without a formal consultation, and that the criteria it sets out for what constitutes a coasting school will initially be on an attainment rather than a progress measure."

Is Morgan's announcement the effective demise of P8 before it starts and the trailer for a new floor target i.e. 60% EBacc

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 30/06/2015 - 15:53

Guest - a cynic might say the Government will shift the goalposts whenever it suits and then apply new measures retrospectively.

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