A technical guide for primary schools published in December 2016 defines the “coasting” progress threshold as below -2.5 in reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in writing. Schools have to be below at least one of these thresholds and have fewer than 85% of children making the expected progress to meet the definition. To be defined as “coasting”, they have to meet the definition for three consecutive years. The Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) applies this criterion to school data once the key stage 2 results have been published and then takes follow-up action with schools identified as coasting.
Guidance about the follow-up action is contained in ‘Schools causing concern: Intervening in failing, under-performing and coasting schools‘ published in March 2016. In summary:
- The RSC notifies the school that it falls within the coasting definition and is therefore potentially subject to formal action.
- The governing body informs parents of this.
- The RSC obtains additional information from the school about why it has met the coasting definition, what current or planned remedial action is in hand and what additional support might be helpful. This informs a discussion with the school.
- With the support and advice of a Headteacher Board, the RSC decides what specific course of action will be taken.
In reaching a decision the RSC “will consider the school in the round, seeking to take account of its context, wider achievements and overall provision to pupils, as well as the factors which may have led it to fall within the coasting definition“. Thus performance data will be judged in the context of factors such as pupil cohort size, attendance and mobility (i.e. the number of pupils who have joined and left the school) and what impact these might have had on the performance data. The RSC may decide that a school:
- has met the coasting definition but is in fact supporting pupils well, and therefore no action is required;
- has a sufficient plan and sufficient capacity to improve, and therefore no action is required; or
- will need additional support and challenge in order to improve. The RSC will decide whether it will be necessary to intervene to bring that about.