The Education and Adoption Act 2016 created a situation where a school could be considered a ‘coasting’ school. After a certain amount of huffing and puffing the DfE came up with criteria to decide what constituted a coasting school and those schools that were not covered by the definition. The definition excludes many of the smallest primary schools with fewer than 11 eligible pupils at age eleven. The rules are currently being approved by parliament through delegated legislation.
Based upon the results for 2014 and 2015 and the provisional results for 2016 at Key Stages 2 and 4 the DfE has identified 804 such schools, of which 479 met the definition in relation to Key Stage2 and 327 at Key Stage 4; there were two all-through schools that met the definitions at both key stages.
Of the 479 schools that have provisionally met the definition in relation to Key Stage 2, 106 were already academies and 373 were not. Of the latter, 269 were community schools; 26 foundation schools and 78 voluntary aided or controlled schools. In total 3.4% of non-academy schools and 4.3% of academies met the definition.
Of the 327 schools that provisionally met the definition at Key Stage 4, 176 were academies and 151 were not. Some nine per cent of academies were, by definition, coasting as were 13.5 of local authority schools, with 71 community schools and 58 foundation schools in the list along with 22 voluntary aided or controlled schools. Interestingly, of the 176 academies of various descriptions, 108 were sponsor led schools, making 19.5% or nearly one in five of these schools. Also in the list were one free school and four Studio Schools, but no UTC.
Among the Key Stage 2 schools, the Regional School Commissioner region with the highest percentage was the West Midlands, at 4.7%, whereas Lancashire and West Yorkshire had the lowest percentage at 2.7%. The national average was 3.5% of eligible schools.
There was a more marked difference in percentages in the key stage 4 list, with both the East Midlands and Humber and Lancashire and West Yorkshire regions having more than 16% of schools regarded as coasting, whereas only 5.0% of schools in the North East London and East of England region met the definition.
What happens to a coasting school is up to the local Regional School Commissioner, using guidance published in the spring at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510080/schools-causing-concern-guidance.pdf
There is no automatic requirement for these schools to be converted into an academy if they are not already one or to move to a new trust if they are. The RSC will decide using the guidance if that is the approach to take. The DfE document issued today suggests that ‘only in a small minority of cases will RSCs direct a coasting maintained school to become a sponsored academy or move a coasting academy to a new trust.’ We shall see how RSC act once the list has been finally confirmed after the publication of the final 2016 results.
This is the first time this approach has been taken in public and no doubt the names of the schools will appear in the press over the next few weeks. Hopefully, the list will be much smaller next year.