The Department for Education has released Illustrative Regulations ('the Regulations') on Coasting after the term was initially introduced from the Education and Adoption Bill ('the Bill'), currently in the report stage in the House of Commons.

Defining the Coasting School

The Regulations define coasting differently for primary and secondary schools. In both cases the school must fall below the coasting level for three consecutive years in order to reach the definition. The first round of coasting schools must therefore reach the criteria for all three years of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Primary schools:

  • In 2014 and 2015, fewer than 85% pupils achieved level 4 or above in reading, writing and mathematics and below the median percentage of pupils made expected progress (at least 2 levels) in reading, writing and mathematics at KS2
  • In 2016, fewer than 85% pupils achieve expected standards in reading, writing and mathematics and pupils not making sufficient progress (to be announced once tests are taken in 2016)

Secondary schools:

  • In 2014 and 2015, fewer than 60% of pupils achieved 5 A*-C (including English and Maths) and the school has a below median score for the percentage of pupils making expected progress
  • In 2016, if a school falls below a specified Progress 8 score (to be announced once tests are taken in 2016)

Action for Coasting Schools

The explanatory statement of the Regulations states that schools will be notified if they fall within the definition of a coasting school. It does not mention who will send this notification, but the Regional Schools Commissioners will be the ones responsible for investigating the matter further.

Coasting schools will then have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to make sufficient improvement. It is not known what will be sufficient for these purposes or what evidence is required.

The explanatory statement stresses that it is not the plan to seek academy conversions for all coasting schools; it is the "challenge and support" of these schools and only if the coasting school cannot prove its capacity to improve will intervention under the Bill follow. 

Next steps for the Regulations

The Committee stage will provide for a scrutiny of the Regulations. A public consultation will be undertaken allowing for comment on the proposed coasting definition.

The Regulations will come into force from the end of 2016. With the risk of the Bill being passed before the Regulations, Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has stated that schools will not be classed as coasting and come under intervention before the Illustrative Regulations are in place.

What about Coasting Academies?

There is no proposed action for coasting academies; the Bill and Regulations do not apply to them. It has been suggested that Regional School Commissioners will address coasting academies as well, but there has been no further action or comment on this issue.

It has been proposed that intervention powers will be given to the Secretary of State in the model funding agreement for academies, however this will only apply to future academies adopting these new funding agreements and not those already in existence.