Today is one of the most important days in the education calendar, as thousands of parents throughout the country find out which primary school has offered a place to their child.
Starting school is a significant moment and we know how much today matters to pupils and their parents.
It's encouraging that last year the proportion of pupils securing a place at their first choice of school remained high, with well over four in five first-choice applications resulting in an offer.
This follows the creation of 825,000 new good school places across the country since 2010 – with 90,000 more between 2016 and 2017 alone. We will continue to build on this by investing £5.8 billion to create even more good school places, because we are determined to give parents choice when it comes to their child’s education.
Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, academic standards are rising across England – with more than 1.9 million more pupils studying in schools rated "good" or "outstanding" than in 2010. Our young readers are also among the best in the world. The proportion of primary school pupils reaching the expected standards in reading, writing and maths went up 8 percentage points last year and the attainment gap between children from wealthier and poorer backgrounds has narrowed by 10.5 per cent since 2011.
'A more rigorous, knowledge-rich curriculum'
Our reforms since 2010 have led us to introduce a more rigorous, knowledge-rich curriculum so children receive the education they need to go on to future success at secondary school and beyond. We are investing in programmes to help raise standards in those crucial early years of education, funding specialist English hubs around the country to improve pupils' literacy and using the same approach to teach maths as world-leading countries through our Shanghai mastery for Maths programme. And we have made wider changes to the primary assessment system that will reduce unnecessary workload for teachers so they can focus on what really matters in the classroom.
We are introducing better measures to monitor the progress pupils make throughout primary school, such as a new multiplication tables check to help ensure every child knows their times tables by heart, a fundamental skill for more complex mathematics. This follows the successful introduction of the phonics screening check in 2012, as a result of which there are now 154,000 more six-year-olds on track to become fluent readers today than in 2012 and England’s recent rise up the international Pirls rankings helped put the success of the government’s reforms on a global scale.
Our ambition is that every child has the opportunity to make the most of their lives, wherever they are growing up. A good primary education lays the foundations for that success, so it is right that we help to make sure every child reaches their potential from the moment they enter their first classroom.
I wish all those children starting school this September every success for their future education.
Nick Gibb is the schools minister