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Staffing crisis may be hitting results

ARE recruitment difficulties hampering the drive to raise standards, particularly in London?

This year there was a three point rise in the percentage of English 11-year-olds achieving level 4 or above in maths tests.

However, the gains do not appear to have been uniform across England. A third of

London authorities seem to have registered small gains, or no gains at all.

It is tempting to link this to the real problems of staffing the capital's schools: even though some of these authorities made large gains in the previous year. It is also worth remembering London authorities account for five of the 10 lowest performers but only six of the top 26. Two-thirds of London local education authorities achieve below the national average in the tests.

But tere were some large percentage gains in London, as some authorities that had performed poorly in 1999 had caught up. Hammersmith and Fulham witnessed a rise of 10 points from 60 to 70 per cent.

Outside the capital, large gains were recorded in Nottingham City, Rotherham and Slough. There is now no authority in the country where less than 60 per cent of pupils are at level 4 or better. There have been large gains in a third of the new unitary authorities and in a number of cities in the North. Most counties are making solid progress.

The Government will be hoping that programmes such as Excellence in Cities will have their desired effect on standards in the capital over the next few years.

John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys.

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