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UK Politics

Nick Clegg: Rank children aged 11 by ability to drive boost in primary school standards

Nick Clegg details proposals to achieve higher English and maths standards or risk 'under-performing' label

Children aged 11 could be ranked by ability across England in a drive to boost standards in primary schools.

Under the plans, set out by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the children would be placed in ten per cent bands on a national scale. Parents would be told the positions of their sons and daughters, but the information would not be published.

The moves emerged as Mr Clegg detailed proposals to require primary schools to achieve higher standards in English and mathematics or risk being officially labelled as under-performing.

He coupled the initiative with a promise to boost the amount spent on helping primary age youngsters from poorer backgrounds by up to £625m next year.

Mr Clegg told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We are not going to publish a name and shame league table. Children are already tested at primary school. We are saying go with the grain of that system."

Currently primary schools must ensure that 60 per cent of children reach level four in English and maths before they head off to secondary school, although the figure rises next year to 65 per cent.

The tests are to assess whether children are "secondary ready" in maths, reading, spelling, punctuation, grammar and writing.

Schools that fail to achieve this proportion face immediate Ofsted inspections and the threat of staff being brought in to take over the school's running and conversion to academy status.

Mr Clegg announced that schools will have to achieve 85 per cent success rate by 2016 or face punitive measures. They will also be judged against more difficult tests planned by the Government.

He said last night: "Every primary school should strive to make its pupils ready for secondary school by the time they leave. All the evidence shows that if you start behind, you stay behind. A better start at secondary school is a better start in life.

"I make no apology for having high ambitions for our pupils. But for children to achieve their potential we need to raise the bar - in terms of tests, pass marks and minimum standards."

Mr Clegg, who will today launch a consultation on the proposals, will also announce that the budget for the pupil premium - cash paid to schools to support youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds - will rise next year from £1.875bn to £2.5bn.

But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Given that about 20 per cent of children have some form of special needs, this new target will doom many of them to 'failure'."