SCHOOLS minister Nick Gibb is to demand answers from four councils in the Yorkshire region after primary school results in their area were among the worst in the country this summer.
New figures show Doncaster, Bradford, Wakefield and North East Lincolnshire were among the areas with the lowest number of 11-year-olds getting to the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.
The Department for Education (DfE) is now set to demand explanations from town halls for schools’ overall showing and to ask councils to produce a plan to raise standards.
Doncaster was among five authority areas with the lowest percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in the three Rs nationally.
The town’s schools had 73 per cent of pupils achieving a level four in reading, writing and maths.
Medway, Luton, Poole and Bedford also had the same score.
There were four authority areas in the Yorkshire and Humber region named as being among the worst performing in the country, based on the results of this year’s Key Stage Two standard assessment tests.
In Bradford the figure was 74 per cent of pupils achieving a level four in reading, writing and maths while in Wakefield and North East Lincolnshire the figure was 76 per cent.
Mr Gibb said: “As a One Nation government we are committed to driving up standards as a matter of social justice.
“That is why I will be writing to the director of children’s services and directors of education of councils that are bottom of the league tables and asking that they meet me as a matter of urgency to explain how they intend to improve the teaching of reading and arithmetic in the primary schools under their control.”
Councils have vowed to improve results.
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for education, skills and culture, said: “We’re fully aware in Bradford that educational attainment needs to improve at a faster rate. Ofsted has undertaken a full inspection on the local authority and has confirmed our view of our results and what’s more endorsed the plan that we are implementing to improve standards rapidly. Ofsted also recognised our proactive work with national agencies and the Regional Schools Commissioner to get the right support into Bradford to make some of the improvements needed, so if the Minister is offering practical support then of course we welcome it.”
Jo Moxon, Doncaster Council’s assistant director learning and opportunities: children and young people, said: “Although these figures are unvalidated, we are obviously disappointed by the results shown, and will be working closely with headteachers and governing bodies to improve attainment levels. Early indications show that there has been improvement in the progress pupils have made since Key Stage One, and we are determined to bring necessary challenge and undertake the work needed to enhance results in general.”
John Wilson, corporate director for children and young people at Wakefield Council, said: “The performance of primary schools in Wakefield has improved on last year’s performance and at a faster rate than the national rate of improvement. However, we believe our schools can improve still further and we will be working with them to continue the improvements they have already made.”
The Department for Education (DfE) said today’s results show “substantial increases” in the number of 11-year-olds securing the skills needed for secondary school compared to 2010.
Ninety thousand more primary school children are achieving the expected standards in reading, writing and maths than in 2010, the DfE said.
Four out of five pupils (80 per cent) achieved the expected level level in reading, writing and maths – up from just 6 in 10 (62 per cent) in 2009;
The highest ever percentage of pupils reached the expected level in maths, at 87 per cent – up one percentage point on last year.
Mr Gibb said: “A good grounding in reading, writing and maths sets a young child up for life– so I am delighted that 90,000 more children are starting secondary school with a firm grasp of the basics compared to just five years ago.
“These results vindicate our decision to expand the valuable academies programme into primary schools with thousands of children on course to receive a better education.”
It is the last time the format will be used to assess performance at the end of primary school, as from summer 2016 pupils will be assessed against a higher standard and given a scaled score where 100 will represent the expected benchmark.