Ministers to force changes at schools failing literacy tests

Ministers will put pressure on local education authorities to adopt traditional teaching methods if they fail to meet literacy targets. Judith Judd, Education Editor, describes government plans to achieve dramatic improvements in literacy by 2002.

Local authorities who could do better, even though they are getting above average test results will be exposed, Stephen Byers, school standards minister, said yesterday.

At the North of England education conference he published a list of literacy targets for 132 authorities. Some will be expected almost to double the proportion of 11-year-olds reaching the expected standard over the next five years.

Ministers want 80 per cent of pupils to reach the required standard in national English tests. The present figure is 57 per cent. The lowest target for an authority is 70 per cent and the highest 90 per cent. In 1996, only 36 per cent of pupils reached the standard in Tower Hamlets, the worst performing authority. Its target is 70 per cent. The new authority of Nottingham City which comes into existence in April will have to improve from 36 to 72 per cent.

At the other extreme, Wokingham in Berkshire is expected to go up from 74 to 90 per cent and Bury in Lancashire from 66 per cent to 90 per cent.

Rutland, Surrey, Bromley and Solihull also have targets of 90 per cent.

Authorities were asked to chose targets from a 5 per cent range. Mr Byers said that some had been cajoled into setting targets acceptable to the Government. Others had opted to aim for even higher goals. All have agreed acceptable targets.

Mr Byers accepted that progress would be less rapid in areas which are already performing well. He said: "There will be no hiding place for under performance - every parent will know these figures and will judge local education authorities on how they meet them."

Ministers would be monitoring authorities' progress and would take action if any were falling behind.

Most people now accepted, he said, that teaching methods used in the national literacy project, which include phonics and whole-class teaching worked. "If an authority is falling behind ... we will put pressure on them to adopt different methods which will raise literacy levels."

Mr Byers accepted that those authorities in deprived areas would need more help from the Government but said that poverty was no excuse for underachievement. He reassured conference delegates that they had a vital role to play in new education action zones but warned them that they had no God-given right to run schools.

Mr Byers also announced that the Government is to introduce a new kite- marking system for independent schools. The rethink has been prompted by the Utting report on child protection. Talks are taking place between ministers and independent school leaders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Existing Customer Telephone Consultants

£13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Every day they get another 1000...

Recruitment Genius: Contract Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor