Suffolk: County up to 133rd nationally, but key stage two results still disappoint

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Councils head of education

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Councils head of education

More than 2,000 11-year-olds in Suffolk are still failing to hit expected levels in reading, writing and maths, new Government figures reveal.

Standards of grammar, spelling and punctuation are particularly low compared to the national average, although there has been a small rise in the performance of boys at Key Stage Two level.

Nationally, 76% of 11-year-olds reached the target level four standard for reading, writing and maths.

But of the 6,920 pupils taking their SATs in Suffolk in May, only 70% reached the target level four in the three subjects. Just 67% of boys made the grade and 73% of girls.

The results move Suffolk up from 149th in the national league table to 133rd.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s head of education, said there had been significant improvements in areas where the School Organisation Review - a controversial shift from a three-tier to a two-tier set-up - had been completed.

She said: “While our ambition is for Suffolk to be much higher up the education league tables than at present, the latest Key Stage Two results clearly show that attainment is moving in the right direction.

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“I’m particularly pleased to see the significant and continued improvements that have been made in schools that have moved to the two tier education system. This provides further evidence to back up the need to complete the SOR.”

Graham White, Suffolk’s NUT branch secretary, welcomed the progress but said the council should be doing more to accommodate the growing proportion of Suffolk schoolchildren with English as an additional language (EAL) in order to boost results.

He said: “Suffolk results do show a slight improvement overall which is clearly welcomed. We are not complacent but then teachers are not complacent, they are always trying to get the best out of all of their pupils.

“Over the last 10 years we have seen more migrants, including Eastern European, coming into Suffolk but the authority has not sufficiently addressed this in terms of EAL specialists.

“If Suffolk authority genuinely wants to improve then it needs to invest in education and not cut the expertise that already exists.”

The Key Stage Two statistics include the results of the new spelling, punctuation and grammar tests taken for the first time this year.

Only 68% of Suffolk children reached level four in these tests, compared to a national average of 74%.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said the national picture showed that the majority of children were performing well and they, along with their parents and teachers, “should be congratulated for their achievements”.

“However, the statistics also reveal that one in four children is leaving primary school without a firm grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar,” she added. “The new test encourages schools to focus on these basics.”