One in three primary school children hasn’t reached required standards

One in three children leaving primary school this year have failed to reach the required standards for reading, writing and maths, new figures reveal

  • Just 65% of ten and 11-year-olds achieved the expected standard in their tests
  • Critics warn ‘branding children as failures’ will risk ‘turning them off altogether’ 
  • School standards minister said: ‘The majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with secondary school’

More than a third of youngsters leaving primary school this year have failed to reach their three Rs targets, figures revealed yesterday.

Sixty-five per cent of ten and 11-year-olds achieved the expected standard in all their reading, writing and maths Sats tests.

This means that 35 per cent fell short and will start secondary school in September already behind their classmates. Critics warned that ‘branding children as failures’ before they move on risks ‘turning them off learning altogether’.

Sixty-five per cent of ten and 11-year-olds achieved the expected standard in all their reading, writing and maths Sats tests. Stock picture

The overall results are better than last year when 64 per cent met the standard in all three subjects. The figure was just 53 per cent in 2016, when the rigorous primary school tests were introduced.

However, the proportion of youngsters reaching the expected reading standard fell from 75 to 73 per cent. In 2016, the figure was 66 per cent. The Department for Education said pupils below the standard ‘may be able to retrieve simple information from a text but be unable to make developed inferences’.

Maths results rose, with 79 per cent meeting the expected standard – up from 75 per cent in 2018.

Seventy-eight per cent of pupils met the expected standard in the spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) test – unchanged from 2018. In writing tasks, which were assessed by teachers, the proportion reaching the expected standard also remained at 78 per cent.

Fewer marks were needed to reach the expected standard in maths and Spag this year, compared with last year. However, the threshold score remained the same in reading.

Around 600,000 ten and 11-year-olds took the tests in May. Head teachers were given individual results yesterday but the full data will be published in performance tables in December, enabling comparisons between schools.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: ‘These results show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school.’ Stock picture

Critics have warned that Sats put too much pressure on children and are not a reliable measure of school performance. However, the Government argues they help to ensure pupils have had a good grounding in the basics.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: ‘These results show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school.’ 

Tiffnie Harris, primary specialist at the Association Of School And College Leaders, said schools are ‘doing an exceptional job despite the funding pressures’.

She added: ‘The decrease in the proportion reaching the expected standard in reading needs to be seen in the context of an overall improvement since 2016.’

Sara Tomlinson, spokesman for More Than A Score, which wants Sats scrapped, said: ‘Branding children as failures before they start secondary school risks turning them off learning altogether.’

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