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Are 'coasting’ schools not waving, but drowning?

1 June 2015

One of the most anticipated points in the Queen’s speech last week was the announcement of the Education and Adoption Bill. The proposed legislation would give the education secretary the power to intervene in so-called 'coasting' schools, defined by the Department for Education as those “having shown a prolonged period of mediocre performance and insufficient pupil progress”. No further information is given about how long a 'prolonged period' is or what would constitute 'insufficient' pupil progress.

As contributors to a Guardian article point out, schools regularly achieving good results and therefore over-subscribed may be as guilty of failing to maximise their student’s potential as those regularly at the bottom of the league tables. The new bill may mark the first step away from an over-reliance on exam results and towards contextual value added as a marker for both potential and achievement for students and schools.

The new definition may bring some surprises for staff and parents who previously thought their school safe from unwanted DfE attention.

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