Hear informed debate: How primary schools fail their pupils on basics

The proportion of 11-year-olds in England reaching the standard expected of them in reading and maths has risen by 3% and 4%
The proportion of 11-year-olds in England reaching the standard expected of them in reading and maths has risen by 3% and 4%
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YORKSHIRE has the country’s lowest level of primary school pupils making the grade in English according to figures which show thousands of the region’s children are starting secondary school without mastering the basics in reading or writing.

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New Government statistics show the region’s schools had fewer 11-year-olds getting to the standard expected of the age group in reading, writing and science tests and assessments than anywhere else in England.

Yorkshire’s maths scores in standard assessment tests (Sats) were also the joint worse in the country compared with other Government regions.

This was despite a major improvement in scores across Yorkshire which saw all 15 education authorities get their highest level of pupils achieving level four results – the expected standard – in both English and maths.

This improvement in results has been seen across the country, however, meaning Yorkshire remains among the worst performing areas.

Over the past six years Yorkshire has had the lowest level of 11-year-old pupils getting to the expected standard in English and maths in 2007, 2011 and this year and the joint worst results in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

An exams expert warned 2012 test scores are not comparable with previous years as pupils writing ability was not measured in a formal Sats test this year but through teachers’ assessments.

Professor Alan Smithers, of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, said: “The results for writing this year underline the weakness of relying on teacher assessments when the teachers themselves and the schools are to be judged by the results.

“The switch to internal teacher assessment in writing has seen the percentage awarded level four shoot up six points from the actual test last year and is four points higher than the test which was carried out as a check.”

The figures published yesterday by the Department for Education (DfE) show that in Yorkshire 17 per cent of pupils, more than 8,500, did not get to the standard expected in English. This was higher than any other Government region in England. More than one-in-five 11-year-old boys, 21 per cent, and 13 per cent of girls did not reach level four - again the worst result nationally.

In reading tests 16 per cent of Yorkshire pupils did not reach the expected standard while in writing assessments done by teachers 21 per cent of 11-year-olds were found not to have made the grade.

Yorkshire was the only region in England where more than in one-in-five children did not reach the standard expected in writing.

The DfE tables also show the region’s primary school performance in science lags behind the rest of the country with 84 per cent of pupils judged by teachers to have reached the level four benchmark compared with a national average of 87 per cent.

Nick Seaton, a spokesman for the York-based Campaign for a Real Education said pupils were being “let down”, adding: “This is more serious when you think that these children will be the first to be sitting the more rigorous English Baccalaureate in five years time. It is therefore even more important that they are getting the basics right from an early age.”

Nationally the proportion of 11-year-olds in England reaching the standard expected in reading and maths has risen by three per cent and four per cent respectively. The percentage of pupils achieving the expected level in reading increased from 84 per cent last year to 87 per cent this year while the number reaching it in the maths test rose from 80 per cent to 84 per cent.