MORE than 100 primary schools in Yorkshire failed to meet new Government targets aimed at ensuring 11-year-olds get a decent grounding in reading, writing and arithmetic, with Rotherham named as the country's worst performing education authority.
League tables in full
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Ministers expect every school in the country to ensure 60 per cent of pupils achieve a basic standard in both English and maths tests by the time they finish primary school.
Schools are also expected to keep up with the national average level of progress being made by children between the ages of seven and 11.
League tables published yesterday from this summer's Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) reveal that 119 schools across the region failed to meet this goal and could now be targeted for intervention or closure.
The figures also show that Rotherham schools test scores were lower than any other education authority in England.
The number of schools which fell below the coalition Government's new benchmark would have been much higher if the tests had not been disrupted by a teachers' boycott.
More than 600 schools across Yorkshire refused to sit the tests, meaning about 22,000 pupils were not assessed.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb insisted yesterday that the new minimum standards being asked of primary schools were "firm but fair". He said the statistics show that many primaries are providing a "first-class education". But he added: "Currently half of all 10 and 11-year-old boys who qualify for free school meals are being let down by our education system.
"It is unacceptable that after seven years of primary school these children are not at the standard in English and maths that they need to flourish at secondary school."
The league tables showed Rotherham had the country's lowest level of pupils achieving the expected standard in English and maths. It is the third consecutive year the town's primary schools have been the worst performing in Yorkshire. Department for Education figures show 66 per cent of its pupils achieved level four – the average standard expected of the age group – in both their English and maths tests.
York was the region's strongest performing authority, with 78 per cent of pupils making the grade.
Rotherham Council's senior director of schools and lifelong learning, Dorothy Smith said: "These are obviously very disappointing results but we had already started taking action to tackle the issue, even before these figures were published. We have seen a rise in the maths results, in line with the rise nationally, but a fall in the overall results for English at level four, although there was a slight rise in those achieving higher standards at level five.
"We have this year launched our Transforming Rotherham learning strategy to boost standards, which all our schools have signed up to.
"However this isn't just about raising standards in schools, it is a whole ethos about how people of all ages learn and raise their aspirations."
She said many of the initiatives being launched in primary schools were "medium term" projects which will make an impact in future years.
"Obviously we are aware that the figures nationally are affected by the high level of teacher boycotts meaning the true picture in some areas is not available," she added. "Only three schools in Rotherham took part in the boycott so we do feel we have the full picture of results in the borough."
There were 13 education authorities across the country which the Government did not produce results for because of the number of schools who took part in the boycott.
Earlier this year when local education authority results were published from this year's SATS for 11-year-olds the Department for Education had said that it could not produce overall results for Calderdale, Bradford or Wakefield because of the effects of the protest. However all three authorities did have results published yesterday.
Education bosses in Bradford have hailed the improvement in their league table standings which has seen the level of pupils achieving the expected standard in English and maths being brought in line with the national average.
Denise Faulconbridge, the managing director of Education Bradford, the private firm responsible for raising standards said: "In the last year of our contract, I am delighted we have honoured our commitment to close the gap at key stage two level four and above. A lot of hard work has gone into achieving this momentous milestone.
"Congratulations should go to all those involved in bringing about such record overall validated results including school staff, pupils, governors and parents." Education Bradford was given a 10-year contract to help run the city's education authority in 2001. School services are being taken back in-house by Bradford Council next year.
Nationally the tables reveal that slightly more primaries scored full marks than last year despite the numbers taking part in the boycott. The results showed that 289 primaries succeeded in making sure every 11-year-old left with level four marks in both English and maths, compared with 282 last year.
UNION DISPUTE CLOUDS RESULT
THE league tables published by the Government yesterday show the performance of 11-year-old pupils in English and maths tests sat at the end of primary school.
They are referred to as the key stage two standard assessment tests. This year's results are incomplete because around a third of schools in the region boycotted tests in protest over the stress and pressure that unions argue league tables place on teachers.
The tables used to include science but now only provide information on how many pupils reached level four – the average standard expected of an 11-year-old – in English and maths. They also provide figures for each council area and give details of school attendance records.