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Junior targets to be imposed by ministers

Pupils may be expected to reach both English and maths goals. Geraldine Hackett reports

MINISTERS are not planning to consult schools or the teacher unions on new national targets for 11-year-olds in literacy and numeracy.

The more ambitious goals have yet to be announced, but it has been suggested that ministers are concerned that many pupils hit the target level in maths but not English and vice versa. They are said to want 80 per cent to clear both hurdles.

Although schools are set to reach their goals - 80 per cent of 11-year-olds reaching the required level in English and 75 per cent in maths - 12 months ahead of the scheduled date of 2002, currently only two-thirds of pupils reach the expected level in both subjects.

But the National Union of Teachers said that any further goals needed to be realistic.

"Schools are not likely to be willing to work to targets they do not own or they have not been consulted about," said John Bangs, the union's assistant general secretary.

"So far, it has been a top-down exercise. The Department for Education and Employment has told local authorities what they expect. The locl authorities have used the figures to give schools their target and that has resulted in some inappropriate goals being set," said Mr Bangs.

According to Chris Davies of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, schools had been hoping that targets and league tables might have been sidelined after the election.

"The real problem is league tables based on literacy and numeracy results.

"Standards may be rising in those subjects, but they probably aren't in the others. The concentration on the national tests is at the expense of other areas, particularly in Year 6," he said.

The literacy target was set by Labour before the 1997 election and the numeracy target was set by a national task force just after Labour won power.

The higher targets are likely to feature in Labour's manifesto for the next general election.

A spokesman for the DFEE said ministers will announce new targets for 11-year-olds in literacy and numeracy "in due course".

The Government is to consult on targets for 14-year-olds in English, maths, science and information and communication technology, but not on new GCSE targets.

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