SATS levels to be reset following pandemic

The base level standards at which primary schools are measured are being reset because of the length of time children were out of classrooms due to the pandemic.

It means improvements in the national SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) will not be gauged until after this academic year, Clare Kershaw, the Director of Education at ECC, told Essex Council’s people and families policy and scrutiny committee on Thursday (September 9).

She said the impact of COVID has meant the council is rebasing SATs levels from this academic year and then set targets after the end of the 2021/2022 academic year.

All Year 2 and Year 6 students will be required to sit the exams once again in May 2022 to evaluate academic progress in reading, maths and English.

Ms Kershaw said: “We are expecting everything to return to normal this year.

“There are performance measures we have added to the strategy that will be adopted by cabinet.

“We are going to rebase from this academic year because we haven’t got any validated data, bar 2019.

“So we are going to look at where we have got to at the end of 2022 and then set targets going forward in term of outcomes and reading will be part of that.”

The announcements comes amid an extra £1million for reading over the next 18 months, to support children and young people affected by the loss of learning and missed opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Essex Education Task Force’s aim is to ensure that every Essex child leaves school able to read at their age level or better.

The investment is part of ambitious plans to address the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s education.

But Councillor Aidan McGurran (Lab, Pitsea) said the council was being overly ambitious and measurements in improvements should be at the core of its strategy rather than actual milestones.

He said: “I am concerned that we may be setting up ourselves to fail.

“Setting standards is great but to say that all pupils will be at the national reading standard or above just strikes to me as a little unrealistic.

“I am not an educationalist but it occurs to me that if it was that easy we would all be doing it and surely the aspirations should be about improvement.

“We don’t all have the same educational attainment levels and surely the aspiration should be taking the child at seven to 11 and 11 to 16 and improving them. Setting an aim strikes me as not deliverable.

Ms Kershaw added: “We know that secondary schools don’t teach reading as well as primary schools.

“We are trying to get a process through taskforce where we prioritize reading all the way through the education system and it being as equally valued in primaries as secondaries.

“I recognise it is an ambition but I think it is a good ambition for us to have and set.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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