PRIMARY HEADS are predicting a rise in English and maths results when new figures are published next year.
The figures fall short of government targets, which say that 85 per cent of 11-year-olds should pass level 4 in the two subjects. But they signify a remarkable rise in performance over Labour's 10 years in power.
Headteacherss have reported figures in both subjects and they expect 81 per cent of pupils to reach level 4.
When Labour took office in 1997, 63 per cent of pupils reached level 4 in English and 62 per cent in maths. By last year, this was up to 79 per cent in English and 76 per cent in maths. This year's results are expected to show English stalling and maths rising to 80 per cent.
The 85 per cent target was originally set by ministers for 2004, then pushed back to 2006, with the hope that this would be sustained until 2008.
But not everyone believes the targets were realistic anyway. David Fann, chair of the National Association of Head Teachers primary committee, said: "We are not opposed to schools having targets, but the national targets have always been unrealistic they were just plucked out of the air.
"There should be no more key stage 2 targets. The targets and the league tables are used to punish heads and teachers who are doing a good job in difficult areas."
But the Government has said that targets for KS2 attainment will continue beyond 2008.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The new targets for 2009 onwards will be announced later in the year. The setting of ambitious national targets has contributed to the highest standards ever achieved at primary and GCSE level.
"When (Labour) came into office, standards were unacceptably low and the targets signalled our determination to tackle this."
The first local authority targets for five-year-olds have also been published, and are less rosy than ministers' had hoped. Five-year-olds are assessed against the foundation stage profile, a series of 13 nine-point scales.
The Government target for 2008 is for 53 per cent of five-year-olds to get six points or more on each of the seven scales, which cover personal, social and emotional development and communication, language and literacy.
But Local authorities estimate that only 49.6 per cent will reach this level.
There has been controversy about the rigour of the assessments. Guidance has been issued this year in an effort to standardise them, amid fears that some schools were resorting to testing pupils.