Family life is also at fault, says head

1st December 1995 at 00:00
The falling standards of pupils entering secondary schools pre-dates the turbulent days of curriculum changes, according to Peter Downes, head of Hinchingbrooke.

His school is a popular comprehensive in Huntingdon. But while there have been no changes in his intake, standards have dropped significantly in the past nine years.

The school sets the nationally standardised tests of the National Foundation for Educational Research to measure the competence of new pupils.

And when Mr Downes looks at his records he can see his school scored 109 (on a national mean of 100) nine years ago.

Since then, the year-on-year average has been 106, 106, 104, 103, 102, 98.5, 96.9 and 96.9. The average boy's score has dropped even further.

Mr Downes said: "A fall of nine points, according to the NFER, is a significant drop and very worrying. I believe society is placing a lower value on being able to read. Families should be reading to each other from the earliest age, but they are not. The tests are showing these children have poorer verbal reasoning. The scores for non-verbal reasoning have not dropped to the same amount.

"This downward trend has been sharpened by the changes in the curriculum and the poor morale in primary schools. I believe the extra work the curriculum and its tests have caused mean there is less time for teachers to concentrate on reading."

The knock-on effect, his staff say, are classes that find it harder to catch on to their lessons as quickly and consequently become more restless.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now