Today The Independent publishes the first performance tables for primary schools produced by the Government. The tables for 14,000 primary and middle schools and involving more than 500,000 pupils are organised by local authority. Authorities have been placed in alphabetical order.

Schools have been ranked within local authorities according to the proportion of pupils awarded Level 4 or more in the 11-year-old tests in English, maths and science, taken in May 1996. Level 4 is the grade which 11-year- olds are expected to reach.

The percentage of pupils getting Level 4 or more in each subject is shown, followed by the total of the three percentages. Schools have been ranked according to the total. Where two or more schools have the same score, they have been listed alphabetically.

The Government's list of schools is in alphabetical order. Like most newspapers, we have carried out our own ranking exercise. The Department for Education has said that any ranking may mean that up to ten per cent of schools are misplaced.

The column containing the number of pupils shows the number eligible to take the tests. Columns showing the number of pupils with special educational needs have been omitted, though a few of them will not have taken the tests.

Schools can apply for exemptions for those with the most severe difficulties.The tables do not take into account the number of pupils who were absent when the tests were taken.

Besides the tests, teachers also assess their pupils throughout the year. Results of the teacher assessment are included in the Government tables but not in ours.

Parents can compare their schools' results with the national average but the tables take no account of the different background of schools' pupils.

Schools with the fewest pupils eligible for the tests are not included. In English the percentage of pupils gaining Level 4 or better was 56 per cent, in maths it was 53 per cent and in science 61 per cent.

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