Written statement to Parliament

Primary and 16 to 19 assessment and accountability

Schools Minister David Laws’ written ministerial statement on reforms to primary and 16 to 19 accountability.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon David Laws

I am today announcing the final elements of our schools accountability reform programme: reforms to primary and 16 to 19 accountability from 2016. This builds on our plans for secondary school accountability.

Progress will now be the most important way in which we will hold schools and colleges to account. The new accountability system will be fairer, measuring the progress that students make while at school or college. This ensures that all students receive equal attention: we will measure the progress that all students make whatever their starting point. This will prevent the unfair focus on those at threshold borderlines.

To help all parents and students to compare schools and colleges, we will require all schools and colleges to publish the key information for primary, secondary and 16 to 19 phases on their websites in a standard format. This information will clearly show the progress that students make, their attainment and how well they do in English and mathematics.


We are resetting the standard for success for primary schools. Expectations are currently too low (level 4c in English and mathematics). In 2012, fewer than half the pupils who had only just reached this expected standard went on to achieve 5 good GCSEs. Under the new system, we will expect schools to support at least 85% of their pupils to achieve a new higher standard (closer to the present 4b level). With the continued improvement in teaching, the sharper focus of the new curriculum and increased funding, results should rise.

We have invested through the pupil premium so that schools can give disadvantaged pupils the help they need. With more than 1.1 million pupils from reception to year 6 currently benefiting, schools receive £953 for each primary-age pupil rising to £1300 from April 2014.

To judge schools’ progress more fairly, we will work with experts to introduce a new assessment taken during reception as the baseline. This will sit within teachers’ broader ongoing assessments of children’s development and progress throughout reception. The reception baseline will be used to assess schools’ progress for children who start reception in September 2016 and beyond. Schools that choose not to use an approved baseline assessment from 2016 will be judged on the 85% attainment standard alone.

From September 2016, the early years foundation stage (EYFS) profile will no longer be compulsory. The EYFS will continue to be statutory and the basis for Ofsted inspection of early year settings including children in a school nursery and reception classes, thereby ensuring children receive a broad education and are able to learn and thrive in school.

I can also confirm today that the grammar, punctuation and spelling test will not form part of the primary floor standard in 2014.

16 to 19

Our changes to 16 to 19 accountability support the reforms we have already made to improve the quality of 16 to 19 education and training. The introduction of study programmes and traineeships last September, the reforms to A levels and vocational qualifications and the emphasis on English and mathematics support our ambitions to make sure that students in this country can compete with the best in the world.

We will introduce new, fairer minimum standards for 16 to 19 providers. Wherever data allows it we will use progress measures. This will apply to academic and applied general qualifications. Where the data is not robust enough, we will use a combined completion and attainment measure.

We will introduce 5 headline measures of performance for all 16 to 19 providers to give a broader picture of educational outcomes than attainment alone. These headline measures include:

  • progress measures
  • attainment measures
  • retention measures
  • English and mathematics progress measures for those who did not achieve good grades at age 16
  • destination measures


We believe that the single most important outcome for any school or college is to give as many students as possible the knowledge and skills to flourish in the later phases of education and life. The reforms that I have set out today set the framework for schools and colleges to meet this challenge: ensuring all children move on to secondary school ready to succeed and all 16 to 19 students can move into further or higher education or employment.

Published 27 March 2014