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Big improvement in tests for 11-year-olds

RESULTS IN this year's English and maths tests for 11-year-olds have improved dramatically and given a huge boost to the Government's standards campaign, The Independent can reveal.

But critics, who queried the validity of the tests earlier this year, will be suspicious. An inquiry set up by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, to look into the tests dismissed allegations that the English pass mark had been secretly lowered so that targets would be more easily met.

Early projections suggest that the Government will comfortably reach its target of 80 per cent of 11-year-olds at the expected level in English and 75 per cent in maths by 2002.

Results in English are expected to rise by around 7 per cent to 72 per cent this year and those in maths to go up by around 10 per cent to 69 per cent. Last year English was up 2 per cent and maths fell by 3 per cent.

Local authorities who are collating results say there are spectacular improvements. In Bristol, some schools have seen increases of between 20 and 35 per cent in English and 24 per cent in maths.

Thurrock council in Essex is celebrating its best results with an improvement of 13 per cent in maths, 12 per cent in science and 6 per cent in English. In the London borough of Newham, maths results are up by between 10 and 11 per cent and science results are up by 9 per cent.