More than one in four 11-year-olds still fail to master the basics by the time they leave primary school, according to government performance tables published today.
The figures show that 28 per cent of those who took this year’s national curriculum tests failed to reach the required standard in both maths and English.
In all that means 168,000 youngsters needed extra coaching to keep up in class on starting secondary school this September.
More schools also had fewer than 50 per cent of their pupils achieving the required standard in both maths and English - 885 this year compared with 798 in 2008.
The figures sparked off a new row about school standards with opposition MPs claiming they showed Labour was making too little progress in raising standards.
However teachers’ leaders claimed that the results showed there had been a steady improvement in the numbers reaching the standard over the years.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women teachers, said: “The tables will no doubt once again provoke the mind numbing debate on SATs (the national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds) which will serve only to undermine the hard work and achievement of pupils and teachers.
“The sooner performance league tables are abolished and a sensible system of reporting all the achievements of schools is introduced the better.”
The National Association of Head Teachers, which is sounding out its members on a boycott of the tests next year, said: “NAHT is determined thast this is the last time that this system will be used to unfairly compare schools in vastly different contexts.
“League tables of pupil performance are misleading to parents.
“They are also demoralising for schools and school leaders, particularly those working tirelessly in tough communities and they add nothing to the impetus for school improvement.”
This year’s tables showed that a primary school serving one of the most deprived areas of Nottingham – Blue Bell – topped the “value added” table. this shows which schools have done the best to improve upon their pupils’ performance.
Its results showed that 86 per cent of its pupils reached the required standard in English – well above the national average.