Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 15:55 UK

Primary tables three months late

Mark sheet
An inquiry into the marking problems is ongoing

This year's primary school "league tables" in England will be published next March - three months late, the government has announced.

A postponement had been expected because of the marking fiasco.

The fact that the deadline for appeals had to be pushed back from July until September is the main reason.

Schools Minister Jim Knight had said the official inquiry into what went wrong, by Lord Sutherland, also meant the timetable would probably slip.

TABLES SCHEDULE

May - Key Stage 2 and 3 tests taken by children aged 10/11 and 13/14
July - results usually returned to schools
August - provisional national and local authority results published
March 2009 - postponed from December 2008 - tables published showing results for each school
January (not affected by the problems this year) - main secondary school and college tables based on results of public exams including GCSEs and A/AS-levels
This has now been confirmed. The delay also affects the Key Stage 3 results achieved by Year 9 pupils in secondary schools.

The main secondary school tables, drawn from GCSE and A-level results and published each January, are not affected however.

Delivery of results back to schools was badly delayed this year by problems at ETS Europe, which has now lost the contract to administer the tests in future.

'Chaotic'

Shadow children's secretary Michael Gove said: "This is a direct consequence of the government's appalling handling of this year's Sats tests.

"Thousands of parents may not have up-to-date information on their local primary schools in time to make their choices for next year because of Ed Balls's chaotic exam regime.

"Yet ministers still refuse to apologise for their mistakes and we still don't know what is happening with next year's tests."

The league tables - officially the school achievement and attainment tables - show the percentage of pupils in each school who reached the level expected for their age in English, maths and science.

There is also a "contextual value added" score showing how much progress they have made during their time in the school, along with associated information and results.

In some parts of the country even their usual publication date is too late to influence parents' decisions about a school for their child on the basis of the latest results, because it comes after the deadline for applications.

'Range of information'

But in others - where the deadline is as late as February - parents will be denied that information.

However, a Department for Children, Schools and Families spokeswoman said: "Of course the delays to test results are regrettable.

"However, in any normal year this school level data is generally published after application deadlines to primary and secondary schools.

"We know parents use a range of information when choosing a school for their child including previous years' results, Ofsted reports, school prospectuses and most importantly visiting the school and talking to teachers.

"Achievement and Attainment Tables provide important information about a school's performance for parents to consider but as we have always said they are only part of the picture when choosing a school."

The tests - popularly known by the misnomer "Sats" - are a measure of children's achievement against targets in England's national curriculum.

There is no equivalent national publication of test results for other parts of the UK.



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