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Primary schools failing on maths and English

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:40 06 July 2010

Thousands of children in Norfolk are leaving primary school without achieving a good grounding in English and maths.

New figures, released yesterday, have shown that more than 1,800 11-year-olds in Norfolk left primary schools last year without reaching the required standard in English, and more than 2,100 youngsters failed to achieve the target level in maths.

Thousands of children in Norfolk are leaving primary school without achieving a good grounding in English and maths.

New figures, released yesterday, have shown that more than 1,800 11-year-olds in Norfolk left primary schools last year without reaching the required standard in English, and more than 2,100 youngsters failed to achieve the target level in maths.

Norfolk has also slipped 12 places down a league table of 150 authorities, from 107th to 119th.

The information comes from league tables compiled from data published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

This information shows how every 11-year-old in England performed in English, maths and science Sats tests in 2008 - including more than 8,500 pupils in Norfolk.

The national picture from the figures shows that across the country more than 160,000 boys and girls finished their primary education last year without achieving the expected targets, known as level four, in English and maths - and in almost 800 schools more than half of pupils failed to master the basics.

Norfolk has been shown to be below the national averages for all three of the Key Stage Two subjects - 81pc for English, 79pc for maths and 88pc for science.

The county did improve its English results by 2pc with 79pc of students achieving level four in the 2008 Sats but in maths the figure remained at 75pc and science stayed at 86pc.

When Labour came to power 12 years ago the schooling of the nation's youngsters was deemed to be the government's priority, as Tony Blair had pledged with the now famous phrase “Education, education, education.”

But the latest primary school figures will make dismal reading for ministers.

They come after the government has spent billions on education and a decade after the launch of the Sure Start, which has the aim of bringing together early education, childcare, health and family support, to give youngsters, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, a better start in life.

Chris Snudden, head of primary school improvement at Norfolk County Council, said while the county's overall results were “disappointing” the improvements in English showed the authority was “heading in the right direction” and that the authority was “really pleased” with these English results.

She said there had been an emphasis on improving literacy in Norfolk's schools, and that the benefits of the staff and students' hard work was shown in the improved English results, which included 86pc of youngsters achieving level four in reading (up 4pc on 2007) and 63pc achieving the target in writing (up 1pc on 2007).

She said the authority was now focusing on raising standards in maths and science, with training being given to every school on the most effective teaching methods for maths, and the appointment of a primary science advisor for the county.

“It is one of those situations where absolutely we are disappointed (with the overall results) but we understand why it is and we think that the improvements in English are heading in the right direction,” she said.

Rosalie Monbiot, the council's cabinet member for children's services said: “Any improvement in English levels is testament to the determination to raise attainment at our schools, with reading an area that we have been particularly targeting in recent years, and it is pleasing to see that being rewarded.

“Teachers, support staff, pupils, parents, and the county council, put a huge amount of work into raising attainment in the core subjects, and everyone involved will continue this focus so that all of our youngsters can go on to be aspirational people with high levels of achievement.”

Suffolk has also fallen down the league table, dropping 17 places as it goes from 104th to 121st. The county has seen a 1pc improvement in maths to 76pc, while English has stayed at 79pc and science has dropped by 1pc to 86pc.

Teaching unions NASUWT and the NUT have said that the closure of Suffolk's middle schools is a major reason behind pupils below national average performance in the core subjects. They have claimed that Suffolk County Council's school organisation review was causing disruption and uncertainty.

But a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We are delighted that through the dedicated, hard work of staff and pupils in our Suffolk schools, the improvements that have been evident over the past 4 years have been sustained. In particular, the percentage of pupils achieving level four in mathematics has improved for the fourth consecutive year.”

Cambridgeshire, which was last time ranked 36th, has now gone down to 42nd in the league table of 150 authhorities.

There has been a 1pc improvement in English to 84pc as well as a 1pc rise in science to 90pc. The percentage for maths remains at 80pc.

Yesterday's league tables have been published three months later than usual following last year's Sats fiasco.

Administrative problems suffered by contractor ETS Europe meant that the Sats results of more than a million schoolchildren were delayed, and returned to schools late.

In the wake of the fiasco, Schools Secretary Ed Balls scrapped Sats tests for 14-year-olds.

But despite repeated calls from teaching unions for them to be abolished, tests remain for 11-year-olds and will be taken again next month.

Ministers want all schools to have at least 78pc of their pupils reaching level four in both maths and English by 2011.

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