Six out of seven pupils cannot spell 'particularly'

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The Independent Online

The spelling of 11-year-olds is improving, but only 15 per cent of them can spell the word "particularly", according to the official report on last year's national tests, published yesterday. While four in five can spell "million" and "largest", only two-thirds manage "slippery" and "aware".

The spelling of 11-year-olds is improving, but only 15 per cent of them can spell the word "particularly", according to the official report on last year's national tests, published yesterday. While four in five can spell "million" and "largest", only two-thirds manage "slippery" and "aware".

Mental arithmetic is also improving, the report finds; 90 per cent of 11-year-olds can say how many 20p pieces there are in £2 within five seconds, although only about half know which number comes halfway between 24 and 40.

Overall, the test results improved for pupils aged seven and 11 but were slightly worse for 14-year-olds. Standards rose most sharply at 11, where the percentage of pupils reaching the expected level in maths was up from 59 to 69 per cent, and the figure for English was up from 65 to 70 per cent.

In English, more than three- quarters of girls reached the required standard at 11, compared with a little less than two-thirds of boys. But yesterday's report from the Qualification and Curriculum Authority revealing the strengths and weaknesses of pupils shows that 11-year-old boys did better on one-quarter of the reading questions.

Boys scored well where a clear-cut answer was required and on multiple choice questions where there was no need to write at length. Girls did better in questions on imagery and poetic language, although boys outshone them in a question about the action word "pounces".

In science, while children's knowledge of the functions of the skeleton and electric circuits is improving, fewer than one-fifth understand how the Earth is a source of gravity.

In the tests for seven-year-olds, most children could place five numbers under 10 in the correct order, but they had more difficulty with ordering four different amounts of money. Only 9 per cent of those reaching the expected standard were able to subtract 31 from 70.

Spelling standards are rising sharply in this age group. More than four in five could spell "nose", "window", "lived" and "how", and about one-third could spell "thrown". However, 14-year-olds' performance slipped in both English and science. Spelling and sentence construction were poor, and one-quarter of sentences did not have a full stop at the end. Questions on Shakespeare were answered well.

In science, pupils found questions about human reproduction easier to answer than those about the immune system or the planets.

Dr Nick Tate, the authority's chief executive, said the results highlighted the need for improvements in the early years of secondary school. "These reports show in detail where pupils succeed and where they went wrong in the tests. They should be an invaluable tool for teachers in planning future lessons."

* Children should be offered cut price bus fares to encourage parents to abandon the school car run and reduce traffic, a government task force said yesterday. The School Transport Advisory Group said all children should be able to walk, cycle or take the bus or train to school.

Ministers are now considering plans for a new generation of secure bicycle sheds, lockers and bus stops to encourage children to use public transport. Thirty-seven schools have been chosen to test schemes to cut traffic.

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