A week in

13th May 2016 at 00:00

A difficult Sats week began with heartwarming messages from teachers to their stressed-out Year 6 pupils going viral on social media. Jenny Thom, of Bucklebury CofE Primary School in Reading, gave her class a list of pre-Sats homework activities, including eating ice cream and laughing until your tummy hurts. Meanwhile, Catherine Irvine, acting principal of Ravenfield Primary Academy in Rotherham reassured pupils that Sats did not measure amazing skills such as skateboarding. But by Monday afternoon, there were reports of pupils crying over the tests.

Tens of thousands of four- and five-year-olds are beginning school without the language and social skills they need, a study has found. Almost one-third of new starters are not considered to be ready for the classroom, according to primary school leaders. The State of Education report (bit.ly/StateOfEdu), by schools’ leaders service the Key, estimates that at least 194,000 pupils could be starting school unprepared for the classroom. The most common concerns, reported by almost four in five headteachers, were a lack of social skills (79 per cent) and delayed speech (78 per cent).

Schools minister Nick Gibb has revealed that he had already seen the exam question for 11-year-olds that he answered incorrectly live on air. Mr Gibb failed to identify that the word “after” in the sentence “I went to the cinema after I’d eaten my dinner” was being used as a subordinating conjunction rather than a preposition. A few days later, he told delegates at the Brighton College education conference: “I looked at the very question I was asked on Radio 4 and discussed it, which is why it was surprising I did not get it right.”

Only 35 per cent of deaf children are achieving expected levels in writing at age 5, compared with 71 per cent of all children, according to the National Deaf Children’s Society. In its report Right from the Start, which marks the 10-year anniversary of newborn hearing screening in England, the NDCS says that now most babies who are born deaf are identified within a few weeks – rather than at the age of 3, as was the case prior to the screening programme. But the report adds that many children are still let down because they are not receiving the support they need at this critical developmental stage. Susan Daniels, chief executive of the NDCS, said: “We are still a long way from giving deaf children the positive futures they deserve.”


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