Tenfold increase in perfect scores

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The Independent Online

The inexorable rise of the English primary school is revealed today in this year's government league tables. Last year 102 schools achieved a perfect score with all their pupils reaching the expected standard in English, maths and science. This year the figure is 148, nearly 10 times more than when the tables began five years ago.

The inexorable rise of the English primary school is revealed today in this year's government league tables. Last year 102 schools achieved a perfect score with all their pupils reaching the expected standard in English, maths and science. This year the figure is 148, nearly 10 times more than when the tables began five years ago.

The tables compare 11-year-olds' performance by aggregating the percentage of pupils reaching Level 4 in the three subjects.

Writing in The Independent's league table supplement, David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, says the explanation lies partly "in the restoration of tried and tested teaching methods which were a consistent feature of fewer than 2 per cent of schools" when he was elected. He also points to the role of the Government's introduction of literacy and numeracy lessons in raising primary school standards.

Ministers have set targets for 80 per cent of pupils to reach the expected standard in English and 75 per cent in maths by 2002. This year, three-quarters did so in English, 72 per cent in maths and 85 per cent in science, for which there is no target.

Standards are improving most rapidly in some of the most deprived parts of the country. Results for pupils in the first 25 education action zones, set up to promote innovation in underachieving schools, are rising faster than the national results.

Some schools have notched up outstanding results. Shenington primary school, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, is the only school in England to have achieved a perfect score every year since 1996, when the tables were first published. Hutton Rudby school, in North Yorkshire, has achieved perfect scores in each of the last four years.

This year's top performer, if schools with a perfect score are ranked according to the number of pupils eligible to take the test, is Yeadon Westfield junior school outside Leeds. Andrea Eddison, the acting head teacher, put the success down to three years of staff training and a focus on improvement. The school serves a mixed area including a council estate. Mrs Eddison said: "We have been looking particularly at reading and writing and the way we teach them and doing a lot of staff development. We are beginning to see the cumulative effect of that."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the rise of the perfect performers was "brilliant news" but called for wholesale reform of the league tables. He said: "They do not tell the full story. The Level 4 benchmark tells us nothing about the high-ability children who are getting Level 5 or 6 and it ignores the pupils for whom Level 3 marks considerable progress. We need ... a measure which shows the whole ability range."

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