THE Government vowed to tackle “chronic” under-performance in primary education as official figures showed that more than 1,300 schools nationally are missing targets for getting 11-year-old pupils mastering the basics.
The latest primary school league tables also reveal that two Yorkshire cities were among the very worst performing areas in England in this summer’s national curriculum tests in maths and English.
Hull and Wakefield were the lowest ranked authorities in Yorkshire followed by Rotherham - which moved off the bottom nationally where it was ranked last year - and North Lincolnshire.
Data released today revealed that 1,310 primary schools across the country fell below the standard expected for English and maths.
Hear education correspondent John Roberts debate the issues
LEAGUE TABLES IN FULL
Click the links to download PDF tables for each local authority, from the Department for Education
A third of 11-year-olds are not achieving the results they should be in reading, writing and arithmetic, with one in 10 boys leaving primary school with the reading age of a seven-year-old.
One of 14 boys also go on to secondary school with the writing age of a seven-year-old, the Department for Education figures showed.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We are taking action to end years of chronic under-performance.”
Under the Government’s target, primaries do not meet the floor standard if fewer than 60 per cent of pupils reach level four, the level expected for the age group, in reading, writing and arithmetic and they fail to keep pace with the national average level of improvement shown by pupils from the ages of seven to 11.
The tables also give a ranking for every education authority in the country based on pupils’ performance in their English and maths standard assessment tests (Sats)
This reveals that Hull and Wakefield were the region’s worst performers. Schools in both cities saw just under a third of 11-year-olds fail to achieved the basic standard in the two core subjects.
Both authorities had 68 per cent of pupils achieving the expected standard making them the joint fourth worst areas in England.
Rotherham and North Lincolnshire fared little better with 69 per cent of pupils making the grade. Although for Rotherham this was up three per cent on 2010 when the town’s schools were ranked joint-worse in the country overall.
Crowlees Juniors and Infant in Mirfield was named as the region’s best performer in a table ranking schools on the number of pupils who achieved the expected level four grades in both English and maths.
The West Yorkshire school saw 100 per cent of its pupils achieve it this year. It was among 265 schools nationally to achieve this but was ranked seventh in a national table as only six others across England had a larger cohort of pupils achieving this.
According to today’s figures, 82 per cent of all pupils achieved Level 4 or above for English in the Key Stage 2 tests, up two percentage points from 2010. For maths, the figure was 80%, up one percentage point from last year.
The 1,310 schools that failed to meet the target, out of more than 16,000 schools that fielded candidates across England, could potentially risk being closed or taken over.
Mr Gibb said: “The seven years of primary school are key to establishing the building blocks of a child’s education, particularly in reading, writing and arithmetic.
“Today’s figures reveal on a school-by-school basis the high academic standards achieved by thousands of primary schools in this country.
“But 1,310 schools are today shown to be below the floor - and about 150 have been languishing with poor standards for five years in a row.
“It is these schools that we will pay particular attention to in the year ahead, whether through conversion to a sponsored academy or other measures.”
Pupils are expected to achieve two levels of progress between key stage one and key stage two - a standard that was maintained by 85 per cent of pupils in English, and 83 per cent in maths.
This year, 893 schools rose above the floor from last year, while 874 schools are newly below the floor standard expected.
Mr Gibb said he wanted schools to learn from primaries where head teachers delivered a high standard of education to children who had struggled at Key Stage 1, and to those from poorer backgrounds.
He added: “We are also shining a light on those schools where pupils who showed early promise did not maintain their bright starts and tailed off to become below average performers.
“Our priority is to drive up standards in primary schools right across the board.
“It’s why we’re placing such emphasis on improving children’s reading ability in the crucial first few years of a child’s school career.
“It’s the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics, a tried and tested method, which will improve children’s reading. A child’s education stems from their ability to read well.
“It’s why we are committed to improving standards in maths. We will prioritise the allocation of places on initial teacher training to courses with a maths specialism over generalist primary courses.
“We are also focusing on improving the basics of arithmetic in our primary schools.”
Children’s minister Sarah Teather said: “We are extending the amount that even more of our children from low-income families will get through the pupil premium.
“From April next year, schools will be allocated an extra £600 a year for every child who has been on free school meals at some point in the last six years to raise their attainment and help them catch up those from wealthier backgrounds.
“The chasm between the attainment of rich and poor must be closed - 58 per cent of children on free school meals or in care achieved the expected level of English and maths by the end of primary school but 78 per cent of their peers do so.”