The proportion of 11 year-olds reaching the expected standard in the three Rs rose slightly this year, national test results released today show.
More than 408,000 pupils, just over three quarters, or 76 per cent, of the cohort, achieved level 4 in reading, writing and maths – up a single percentage point from 2012.
The figures also include the first results for the new spelling punctuation and grammar (SPAG) test and show a quarter of 11 year-olds failed to reach the expected level 4 standard.
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: “The majority of children are performing well and they, along with their parents and teachers, should be congratulated for their achievements.
“However, the statistics also reveal that one in four children is leaving primary school without a firm grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar. The new test encourages schools to focus on these basics.”
But Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said it was more important that pupils were able to use language rather than name parts of speech.
An improvement in the proportion of pupils reaching the expected level 4 in writing – form 81 to 83 per cent, showed that schools were on the right track, she said.
“These results reflect the continued hard work of primary teachers,” Dr Bousted added. “It is pleasing to see that writing is going up because that is one of the hardest areas to improve.”
Boys did far worse in the SPAG test with almost a third – nearly 85,000 - failing to reach the expected level, compared to 55,000 girls – a fifth of the female cohort.
There was slight drop in the proportion of all 11–year-olds achieving level 4 in reading – from 87 to 86 per cent. But maths results were up from 84 to 85 per cent.
The Confederation of British Industry said the government was right to focus on spelling punctuation and grammar.
The SPAG test includes questions asking pupils to insert missing full stops and capital letters, choose the correct preposition for a given sentence, and to spell words such as ‘station’, ‘disruptive’ and ‘familiar’.
“As we do more of our business online, written communication matters even more than ever,” said Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills. “It is vital that young people are supported to develop this essential skill.”
Labour shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg, said: “David Cameron and Michael Gove are threatening school standards. We know how important reading skills are in later life, but these figures show how the Tories are failing thousands of children.
“David Cameron is so out of touch he slashed support for Labour’s ‘Every Child a Reader’ programme in 2010 which was providing one to one catch up tuition.”