Primary school teachers will be expected to help more children reach higher standards before they start secondary school, under new proposals.
At present, a school is below the government's floor standard if less than 60 per cent of its year six pupils achieve a level four or above in reading, writing teacher assessment and maths, or if it is below the national median for progression in these subjects.
In the event that a school falls below this level, it is prioritised for rapid improvement and also receives an inspection from Ofsted.
However, the government does not consider present standards to be challenging enough and has published a consultation document outlining more ambitious targets for schools.
Under its proposals, floor standards would still be based on a combination of pupil attainment and progress, but the proportion of pupils in each school expected to reach the designated criteria would rise to 85 per cent by 2016.
Furthermore, tests for 11-year-olds would be updated in keeping with the higher expectations of the new national curriculum and would be conducted in maths, reading and spelling and punctuation and grammar.
Achievements in these tests would be measured using a new, consistent scaled score, set at the level pupils need to reach in order to be "secondary-ready".
The old system of levels, with level four being the benchmark pupils must reach, is being jettisoned as the government considers it too broad and unambitious and claims it does not offer a meaningful picture of children's achievement.
Schools minister David Laws commented: "It is vital that we set high aspirations for all schools and pupils.
"Our new targets will prepare children for success. At the moment, pupils are being asked to reach a bar that too often sets them up for failure not success."
Further recommendations made by the government include new school-led systems of assessing pupil performance and a new reporting method that would see each child compared against their peers nationally.
The government is also seeking suggestions as to when might be an appropriate age for children to undergo a baseline assessment of their academic ability, against which the progress they make by the time they are 11 can be measured.
Posted by Theo Foulds