Sunset poser baffles lost 14-year-olds

20th February 1998 at 00:00
The sun is quite a puzzler to British 14-year-olds. Fewer than half realise that it rises in the East and sinks in the West.

At its mid-day zenith, the sun lies in the North - according to 40 per cent of them, at any rate. And its progress across the sky is due to the earth's rapid movement around the sun, say 33 per cent.

As the latest report on last summer's science tests explains, "questions on the Earth and beyond were generally not well-answered".

Trapped in the key stage 3 examination room, the 14-year-olds redeemed themselves with their planetary knowledge. Most could pick out Jupiter on the chart, if not Venus.

But energy resources proved a further downfall as one in three pupils claimed that power stations burned petrol.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which published the report, is concerned at standards among younger secondary pupils. Last summer's key stage 3 tests showed notably less improvement than the results at the politically sensitive key stage 2.

There is still plenty of improvement required here too, according to the QCA's test analysis.

When it came to spelling "mysterious", "widest" and "creature" most commonly emerged as "misterious", "wideist" and "crecher".

There were also eyebrows raised by "hopefull", "dierection" and "gradualy".

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