Pupils get closer to targets in English and maths

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The Independent Online

Test results for 11-year-olds to be published today will show the Government making steady progress towards its targets in literacy and numeracy.

Test results for 11-year-olds to be published today will show the Government making steady progress towards its targets in literacy and numeracy.

The proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard in both English and maths has risen, though not as spectacularly as it did last year.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, has said that he will resign if 80 per cent of pupils fail to reach the standard in English and 75 per cent in maths by 2002.

Most observers expect the target for maths to be reached but some think the English target may present more difficulties because schools are still struggling to improve pupils' writing.

Last year the percentage reaching the standard in maths was 69 per cent - a sharp increase of 10 percentage points that followed a blitz on mental arithmetic. In the previous year, the results fell slightly after the introduction of a mental arithmetic test. In English last year, the proportion reaching the standard was 70 per cent, an increase of 5 points. But only 54 per cent came up to the mark in writing, compared with 78 per cent in reading.

All children in year six took the tests in English, maths and science in May.

Ministers believe the introduction of daily literacy and numeracy hours has boosted the test results though results have also improved in science.

Standards have also risen because teachers are becoming more accustomed to the tests and are encouraging pupils to revise more.

Ministers remain confident that the targets will be met. They point to more resources, including training for teachers, which are being used to raise writing standards.

Government advisers did not expect this year's improvement to be as big as last year's because international experience shows that the greatest effect of reforms usually shows in the second year.

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