Third of primary pupils 'failing'

Almost a third of 11-year-olds could be leaving primary school this summer without a good grasp of reading, writing and maths, it was suggested today.

The prediction comes the day before the Government publishes new figures on the proportion of primary school pupils reaching the level expected of them in the basics.

Last year, just 65% achieved the standard expected for their age (Level 4) in reading, writing and maths combined, meaning that 35%, over a third, missed out.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the figure reaching the level is likely to rise this year, as schools will have been focusing on this measure.

Professor Smithers said: "I would think that since the spotlight focused on that result that schools will have put extra effort in there.

"I think that it might be getting up to 70%.

"But that still looks as though 30% are leaving without reaching the expected level."

Last year was the first time the Government had specifically highlighted this particular measure of pupil performance, Professor Smithers said.

"I would expect schools to have put more effort into ensuring that those that can achieve all three can do so, previously it was all about individual performance in English and maths."

But he warned that bright children, or those that struggle the most, could be affected if schools are focusing on those on the borderline of reaching Level 4.

"People who need to be stretched more, and those that are really struggling at the other end of the scale. They could be ignored," he warned.

This could include youngsters who have special educational needs, or have just arrived in the UK. Some children are also good with either words, or numbers, but have difficulty with the other, Professor Smithers added.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "When we ask people they have said there's always a problem that when a school is under pressure what they do is deal with the children that are borderline."

National curriculum tests, known as "Sats" are taken by pupils in their final year of primary school, and have been fiercely opposed by teaching unions, with a boycott held last year.

According to last summer's results, 80% of pupils reached Level 4 in English, and 79% reached it in maths.

Ministers announced plans last month, following an independent review, to scrap the creative writing paper from 2013.

The writing paper, which forms part of the overall writing test, has long been seen as the most controversial, with teachers arguing it is hard to mark because answers are open to interpretation.

Pupils will sit a beefed-up test in spelling, grammar and punctuation in the future.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Pre School Practitioner

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, they are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development & Relationship Manager

£45000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development & Relati...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant - Startup

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Personal Assistant is require...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?