National primary test results published today suggest standards are improving, with nearly four fifths of 11-year-olds achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths.
Ministers have hailed the news, pointing out that 81,000 more children will start secondary school with a secure grounding in the basics than they did in 2009, despite the tests becoming tougher.
The figures also show that 24 per cent of the 557,400 pupils, who took the tests in May, exceeded the expected level in reading, writing and maths – up from 21 per cent last year.
But they mean that 117,000 children left primary this summer without achieving what was expected in the basics.
School reform minister Nick Gibb said: “80,000 more children than five years ago will start secondary school this year secure in the basics – and able to move on to more complex subjects. It means in the long term these children stand a far better chance of winning a place at university, gaining an apprenticeship and securing good jobs.”
The results show that 79 per cent achieved at least level four in reading, writing and maths compared to 75 per cent in 2013.
Calculators were banned from the maths test for the first time this year. Last year saw the introduction of a new spelling, punctuation and grammar test in which 76 per cent of pupils achieved level four this summer, up from 73 per cent last year.
There were also improvements in each of the other three individual subjects:
In reading, 89 per cent reached at least level four, up from 86 per cent; maths improved from 85-86 per cent; and writing from 83-85 per cent.
“Today’s results show teachers and pupils have responded well to the higher standards our education reforms have demanded,” said Mr Gibb. “There is more to do but teachers and pupils deserve huge credit for such outstanding results.”
The gender gap narrowed slightly this year with 82 per cent of girls achieving the expected standard in each of the tests compared to 76 per cent of boys. Last year there was a seven percentage-point gap.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, described the results as “pretty impressive”. “It is a much more significant improvement than the fluctuations in GCSE results that get so much attention,” he said.
“All the structural changes would make these results harder rather than easier so they can’t be written off. I think this about primary schools raising their game and working harder.”
Sample questions of tougher tests for 11-year-olds released today July 14 2014
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Bring back national tests for 7- and 14-year-olds, says Ofsted December 11 2013