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Talents unlocked;Leading Article;Opinion

THIS week's excellent national test results have led to a new buoyancy in the pressurised atmosphere of the Education Department. Ministers and their advisers believe that the big rise in achievement at key stage 2 triumphantly vindicates their policies. The literacy hour, for example, means that primary teachers who were floundering now have a practical method for teaching reading. The National Year of Reading, and efforts to encourage fathers to read to their sons, are creating a new understanding of literacy, and giving parents a handle on how to help their children.

Pupils are probably more accustomed to sitting tests, and teachers are better at preparing them, especially when it comes to mental arithmetic. But the numeracy strategy will have played its part in the stunning maths results - and will be more widespread next year.

Why the educational right wing should want to denigrate this progress is a mystery. Noone needs to fiddle the tests. For generations the potential of many young people has remained unrealised. Now the teachers, through their hard work in classrooms up and down the land, are beginning to unlock it.

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