A week in

18th December 2015 at 00:00

The amount spent by on providing children’s centre services dropped by more than £100 million in the last financial year, government statistics reveal. Local authorities spent £1.05 billion on early years services – including Sure Start children’s centres – in 2013-14 and £945 million in 2014-15. Sure Start centres were set up by the Labour government as a way of offering support to parents, with services ranging from childcare and playgroups to health support and parenting courses.

The number of primary schools below the floor standards fell from 768 in 2014 to 676 in 2015, new primary league tables show. Schools where less than 65 per cent of pupils have reached the expected level in maths, reading and writing and who have not shown enough progress could be turned into academies or have their academy sponsor changed. But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, warned that next year could be harder. New tougher tests for 11-year-olds could lead to a drop in results and put more schools below the floor target, she said.

Pupils taught in small schools had a higher chance of doing well in their Sats tests than those in larger schools this year. Around one in seven pupils at schools with between six and 10 children scored an average of 31 points or higher, compared with just one in 20 at schools with 100 children or more. The highest score for a primary school with six to 10 pupils was 36.3, achieved by Little Dewchurch Primary School in Hereford. The highest score for a primary school with 100 or more pupils was 33, for South Farnham School in Surrey. When comparing the lowest test scores, the pattern is reversed, with the largest schools performing better than the smallest.

And finally, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School in Grays, Essex, had a starring role in The X Factor final. Former pupil Louisa Johnson, the show’s ultimate winner, was shown visiting with her mentor Rita Ora and giving a performance to hundreds of excited pupils.

Helen Ward (@teshelen)

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