Shock as SATS results at top performing school are annulled

Eye C of E Primary School EMN-180314-175547009
Eye C of E Primary School EMN-180314-175547009

Peterborough’s top performing primary school has had some of its SATS results declared invalid due to maladministration.

Shocked parents received a letter from Eye CofE Primary School saying the results in English grammar, punctuation and spelling had been annulled.

The letter followed an investigation by the national testing agency and Peterborough City Council which led to some of the school’s results being annulled.

Neither the school, council nor the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) have confirmed what the maladministration was.

Eye Primary, in Eyebury Road, finished top of the Key Stage 2 tables in Peterborough last year with 94 per cent of its Year 6 pupils reaching the expected standards in reading, writing and maths. This was 14 percentage points higher than the next best schools in the city - Sacred Heart RC and The King’s School.

However, parents were sent a letter last week from the school’s headteacher Jason Webster telling them the 2017 EGPS SATS results had been annulled due to a “problem with the administration of the test” and that he “sincerely apologised for this error.”

It was only following the Peterborough Telegraph’s enquiries that it was revealed the results were annulled due to maladministration.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Any instances of maladministration of the national curriculum tests are completely unacceptable.

“Following an investigation by the Standards and Testing Agency the 2017 results for ‘KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling: Paper 2’ were annulled at Eye Church of England Primary School.”

The PT asked the STA what the maladministration was for but the spokesperson said it could not go into further details.

The PT contacted Eye Primary on Tuesday afternoon and twice on Wednesday and asked to speak to the headteacher about the annulled tests but had not received a call back at the time of going to press.

Peterborough has finished second bottom of the SATS tables for the past two years.

Jonathan Lewis, service director for education at the city council, said: “We were asked to conduct an investigation on behalf of Standards and Testing Agency (STA) regarding the administration of the Key Stage Two English grammar, punctuation and spelling test in May 2017.

“This was as a result of a concern expressed to STA from an anonymous source.

“Officers from the council visited the school and completed an investigation into the school’s administration of the national Key Stage 2 tests in May 2017.

“The school co-operated in full with the investigation which found that some elements of the way the tests were administered could be improved to ensure best practice.

“The Standards and Testing Agency were informed of the findings of the visit. STA made the decision to annul the results of the Paper 2 Spelling test as result of their own full investigation which concluded that there was some doubt over the English grammar, punctuation and spelling: Paper 2 results for the school.

“The results of the test in reading and mathematics and the teacher assessment of writing are unaffected.

“The pupils affected by this will not have to re-sit the tests. They are already in secondary school and this will not affect the way in which their attainment of English is reported.

“However, Peterborough City Council takes any maladministration of examination processes extremely seriously.

“Following on from this annulment our officers have been working closely with both the school and its governors to ensure its examination procedures are strengthened, significantly prior to the forthcoming examinations this May, including in relation to the security of completed test scripts and arrangements for transcription of pupils’ writing where this is necessary.

“We have also shared learning from this experience with other schools in the city.”

The PT has been contacted by two parents whose children sat their Key Stage 2 tests at Eye last year.

One said their child was now struggling at secondary school and said the concern was that they had been placed in a group above their ability and this followed ‘good’ SATS results at Eye.

What maladministration can be for:

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) sets the tests to assess children in education from early years to the end of Key Stage 2.

Its website states that maladministration can include:

. early opening of test papers or phonics screening check materials without permission

. pupils being over-aided

. pupils cheating

. schools allowing pupils to resit a test or the phonics screening check

. changes being made to pupils’ test scripts outside of test conditions

. schools reporting pupils’ phonics screening check scores incorrectly.

The Peterborough Telegraph asked the STA what the maladministration was at Eye Primary School but the spokesperson said it was standard practice not to give out any further information. One reason for this was so it did not “compromise future investigations.”

The government-sponsored agency does not take action against schools. Its website states: “Our role is to safeguard the integrity of the assessments and not to apportion or assign blame for any alleged maladministration.

“STA does not take part in any school disciplinary procedures relating to maladministration.”

Any decision to amend, annul or discount pupils’ results is final and there is no right of appeal.