Pupils fail to meet national standards

By Brad JonesTOO many primary school children in Suffolk are failing to meet national standards for maths and English, new figures have revealed.Only 71% of 11-year-olds in the county achieved the Government's required standard in maths in the 2004 key stage two tests - 2% better than 2003, but still below the 73% national average.

By Brad Jones

TOO many primary school children in Suffolk are failing to meet national standards for maths and English, new figures have revealed.

Only 71% of 11-year-olds in the county achieved the Government's required standard in maths in the 2004 key stage two tests - 2% better than 2003, but still below the 73% national average.

The number of children achieving the level four standard or above in English was 76%, up 1%, but still under the average of 77%.


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However, the percentage of 11-year-olds achieving the same level at science matched the national figure of 85%.

There was better news at key stage three, with the number of 14-year-olds in Suffolk meeting the Government's standard in maths and science much higher than the average.

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The figures, which are only provisional and may change, were released yesterday by the Department for Education and Skills.

Tony Lewis, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “Teachers and pupils in Suffolk have worked very hard for these results and I would like to congratulate them on their efforts.

“We will of course continue to target our experts at those areas where we would like to see more improvement.

“There are a number of different strategies in place - such as our primary strategy and key stage three strategy - that are aimed at raising the quality of teaching and learning in all our schools to give Suffolk youngsters the kinds of experiences and support that will recognise their potential and maximise their chances.”

At key stage three level, the percentage of 14-year-olds in Suffolk achieving level five or above in maths was 75% - 1% higher than the previous year and above the 73% national average.

In science, 72% of children met the standard - down 3% but still beating the 66% national average. Achievement levels for English will be released at a later date.

Meanwhile, at key stage one 86% of seven-year-olds in Suffolk reached level two or above in reading, 83% in writing and 91% in maths.

Nationally, the Government missed a raft of primary and secondary school test result targets despite improvements in English and maths.

Ministers hailed “record” achievements by 11-year-olds, but admitted that a poorer performance in science by primary and secondary pupils was unexpected.

The results showed that schools in England failed to hit the targets set for them for 2002 as well as 2004 and indicated that more demanding goals later in the decade would also be undershot.

School standards minister David Miliband said the decline in science was unexpected and added: “We are looking into why it might have happened, we are talking to schools about it.”

He said one possible explanation was that a larger proportion of 14-year-olds may have been entered for more challenging “higher tier” science tests than before.

This year's class of 14-year-olds was the first to complete the full programme aimed at boosting achievement during the “lost years” between the end of primary school and the start of GCSEs.

The National Union of Teachers, which came close to boycotting the tests in England last year, accused the Government of shooting itself in the foot over the target-setting issue.

Its general secretary, Steve Sinnott, said: “Instead of celebrating primary schools' achievement in numeracy and literacy, the target system has meant the Government has shot itself in the foot.

“Inevitably, those hostile to the success of our primary schools point to the fact that the Government's original targets have not been achieved rather than to the continuing improvement in pupil performance.

“Teachers regard these tests as disruptive of children's education, taking up an unreasonable amount of time and placing an additional workload on teachers without benefit to pupils, parents or teachers.”

brad.jones@eadt.co.uk

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