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London school praised by ministers and forced to become academy cheated in Sats exams

'We were shocked and dismayed to hear of the over-aiding'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Wednesday 08 August 2018 14:16 BST
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Year six pupils at the flagship academy received too much help
Year six pupils at the flagship academy received too much help (PA)

A school praised by ministers and forced to become an academy despite widespread opposition from parents has been caught cheating in statutory exams.

An investigation has found that year six pupils at the Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane, in Tottenham, north London, were “over-aided” in maths and English Sats exam papers this summer.

Formerly Downhills Primary School, it was taken over by the Harris Federation academy chain in 2012 after parents lost their battle with former education secretary Michael Gove.

Ministers have previously praised the chain for “leading the way” in league tables, and the academy trust has been held up as a shining example of academisation.

But a letter to parents revealed that pupils were helped in their reading and maths reasoning papers, which the government uses to judge primary schools.

Pupils in year six have not received their maths or English Sats results following the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) investigation into the “allegation of the academy mishandling the tests”.

In the letter, the school said: “To our dismay, the STA has concluded that pupils were over-aided in their English reading and maths reasoning papers.”

It added: “We want to apologise to all children and parents for what has happened and assure you that we are taking the matter extremely seriously.”

A spokesperson for the Harris Federation said: “The academy has apologised to former year six families who have not received their Maths or English reading Sats results. This is because of the STA’s finding of over-aiding in their reading and Maths reasoning papers.

“Pupils have been given accurate teacher assessments and these have been provided to the secondary schools they are moving on to, along with their grammar, punctuation and spelling results. This will ensure their transition to secondary school is not affected.”

They added: “It is, however, deeply disappointing and regrettable that families will not receive Maths or English reading Sats results. We were shocked and dismayed to hear of the over-aiding. As well as cooperating in full with the STA, we have arranged our own thorough investigation. This will begin in the autumn term and we will not hesitate to take the very toughest action wherever this is appropriate.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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