Education & Family

Sats test results show improvement

Graph of Sats test results

Primary school test results for 11 year olds in England have shown an improvement in English and maths.

In English, 81% of pupils reached the expected level and in maths 80% reached this level - both one percentage point higher than last year.

Girls outperformed boys in English - but achieved the same results in maths.

This year's Sats tests were disrupted by a boycott by teachers' unions, with about a quarter of schools not taking the tests.

There are usually about 600,000 pupils taking the tests, but this year only 420,000 pupils sat the exams, with their scores appearing in the full national data.

In 20 local authorities so many schools took part in the boycott that there are not enough results to produce a reliable figure for attainment in the authority.

This will mean that primary school league tables, to be published later this year, will be incomplete in some areas.

Gender gap

In Hartlepool, every school took part in the boycott.

Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said the scale of the boycott would "render this year's league tables an irrelevance".

These provisional results show the rising achievements of pupils at the end of primary school - represented in terms of those reaching the expected Level 4 in maths, reading and writing.

The 80% score for maths was the highest since the tests were introduced in 1995.

But within the overall improvement in English, the reading element of the test showed a decline of two percentage points.

The results also show that an increasing proportion are reaching the higher Level 5 - the standard expected of 14 year olds.

In English, 33% have now reached Level 5 - compared with 29% last year. There is an even more pronounced gender gap here - with 40% of girls reaching Level 5, while only 26% of boys achieved this.

In maths, more boys reached the higher Level 5, 37% compared with 32% of girls.

Among the local authorities where results were published, the highest achievement was in Richmond-upon-Thames and the lowest was in Derby.

'Hard work'

Schools Minister Nick Gibb congratulated pupils and teachers on the results - and defended the principle of keeping externally-verified tests.

But he warned that there were still too many pupils failing to make the grade.

"Despite pupils' and teachers' hard work, one in five pupils are still not reaching the expected level in either English or maths and over a third are not achieving this level in reading, writing and maths combined."

These are the last results from tests taken under the previous Labour government - and the Shadow Schools Secretary Vernon Coaker said it showed that 100,000 more children were achieving the basics compared with 1997 when they entered office.

"These are encouraging results in English and maths and the culmination of a transformation in school standards thanks to Labour's investment and reforms," said Mr Coaker.

In 1997, only 63% reached the expected level in English and 62% in maths.

As well as publishing the test results, the assessments of teachers have also been published - and these show the same figure as the test results for English and one percentage point higher for maths.

Critics of Sats tests have argued that such teacher assessments could be used instead of pupils taking externally-marked tests.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teachers' union, said: "Today's figures confirm what we have been arguing, that teacher assessments can be as accurate as test results and teachers' judgement both can and should be trusted."

But the NASUWT teachers' union voiced its opposition to publishing such teacher assessments.

"The NASUWT remains of the view that publishing teacher assessment data alongside externally marked test results will cause confusion," said the union's general secretary, Chris Keates.

"This is a fundamentally flawed idea which was proposed by certain head teachers in an attempt to shift accountability from the school to individual teachers."

Science tests, which were once part of the Sats system, were not taken this year - instead about one in 20 schools took part in sampling tests, with these results to be published later this month.

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