14-year-olds better at maths than science

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The Independent Online
FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLDS are better at maths than science, according to the results of the pilot tests taken by secondary school children in the summer, writes Ngaio Crequer. About 80 per cent of state schools volunteered for the pilot tests and just over half of all fee-paying schools.

In science, 50 per cent of pupils were at level 4 - defined as a typical 11-year-old or below - and 26 per cent at or below level 3 - a typical 9-year-old. Thirty-four per cent of 14-year-olds reached or surpassed the targets for their age in maths, but only 15 per cent did so in science. At 14, girls did slightly better than boys in maths, but in science there was nothing between the sexes in standards.

There were also aspects of science or maths in which pupils did better. Forty per cent reached at least level 6 - the national target for a typical 14-year-old - in arithmetic, algebra and handling data. But less than 30 per cent got to the same level in using and applying mathematics and in shape and space. Children did better in biology than in chemistry or science investigation.

David Hart, chief executive of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that large numbers of children were being labelled as failures. 'But the evidence points clearly to weaknesses in the test.'

The first compulsory tests will be taken next year.