Suffolk's 11-year-olds behind average

PRIMARY school children in Suffolk are drastically behind the national standards for 11 year olds in the three core subjects, worrying figures have revealed.

Lizzie Parry

PRIMARY school children in Suffolk are drastically behind the national standards for 11 year olds in the three core subjects, worrying figures have revealed.

For the second consecutive year standards at Key Stage 2 (KS2) have slipped in the county in English and science.

Only 73% of youngsters who sat the examinations achieved the required Level 4 in maths, compared with a national average of 79%.

In English, Suffolk pupils fell short of the national average of 80% at Level 4, with just 76% achieving the required standard. And in science 85% of pupils gained Level 4 compared to 88% nationally.

The top three primary schools were All Saints Church of England Primary School in Laxfield, Stutton Church of England Primary School and Tattingstone Church of England Primary School, where all pupils achieved Level 4 in all three subjects.

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Last night education bosses said they were disappointed with the results but vowed to make improving standards a priority.

However teaching unions have accused the council of lower spending per pupil than other neighbouring counties and blame disruption to teachers and pupils as a result of the current middle schools review (the Schools Organisation Review).

Graham Newman Suffolk County Council children, schools and young people's services portfolio holder, said overall results for the county were disappointing, despite good performances from several individual schools.

Graham White, Suffolk divisional secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the “disappointing” results were due in part to disruption caused by the organisation review.

He said: “Clearly as teachers we are extremely disappointed. Speaking to teachers where the review is being carried out, staff believe it is having a detrimental effect, teaching in such uncertainty.

“Also as an authority Suffolk is one of the lowest spending per pupil, and that is bound to have an impact. Suffolk County Council spends less across the board per pupil than a lot of other authorities, certainly less than Norfolk and Essex and they have done better.”

He said the NUT is not in favour of league tables which they believe are indicative only of how well-to-do an area is. He added that KS2 results “distort the curriculum” and are a “bad indicator” which label schools rather than improve education standards.

“The league tables show how in rural more well-to-do an areas, the results will be better, the league tables just show social comparisons in different areas in the county,” Mr White added.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “There is no evidence the School Organisation Review has caused a decline in outcomes for the young people at schools in the areas being considered as part of the review. The County Council remains fully committed to the review because it will lead inevitably to an overall improvement in attainment.

“The small decline in attainment at KS2 mirrors the national picture. However, some schools showed much improved results which is a testament to the dedication of hard-working teachers, governors and students.”

Figures obtained by the EADT from the government reveal 73% of pupils in Suffolk achieved Level 4 in maths compared with 76% of pupils in 2008.

A spokesman for the council claimed maths results were up overall, by almost 2% in Year 5 and above.

He said: “It is also encouraging to note the good progress pupils made in maths where the results were up by almost 2%. We are confident there will be improvement in results for 2010.”