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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 11:56 GMT
Primary schools miss test targets
By Gary Eason
Education editor, BBC News website

boy taking test
Almost 600,000 pupils took the tests last May
This year's league tables of England's primary schools confirm the government missed its targets for the results of Sats tests children took in May.

Ministers said attainment had never been better, with 79% of 11-year-olds reaching the expected level in English and 76% doing so in maths.

But the aim was for 85% to do so. The opposition said progress had stalled.

In just over half of schools, results were higher this year than last - but in almost as many they were worse.

The Department for Education and Skills said more able pupils had made better progress than those in previous years.

Results published from 13,500 schools
206 achieved maximum score of 300
highest average point score: 32.8
lowest was 20.3
50% of schools did better than last year
43% had worse results
In English and maths, a third of children in the final year of primary school reached the level expected of 14-year-olds.

But the tables also confirm the government missed its target for the percentage of children reaching the normal primary school standard, known as Level 4.

The national averages were 79% in English, 76% in maths and 87% in science.

The results from independent schools - not included in the tables - accounted for one percentage point of those maths and science scores.

The figures are the same as the provisional results released in August on the same day as the GCSE results - leading to accusations ministers were "burying bad news".

Graph showing results trend since 1998
The results trend in primary schools under Labour
Their target - already postponed from 2004 - had been 85% in English and maths.

The percentage obtaining Level 4 in all three subjects was 69% - the same as last year.

The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Steve Sinnott, said targets set by the government were a problem for the government itself, not schools.

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis said: "Today's results show that we have come a long way since 1997, when a third of 11-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard."

He was particularly pleased to see that previously underperforming schools were now closing the attainment gap, but said more needed to be done.

Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: "Another six years of Key Stage 2 results showing a quarter of boys and one in six girls not being able to read and write properly would be a disaster and would continue to blight the prospects of hundreds of thousands of young people."

In her annual report last month Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said: "I'm concerned about the gap between the best and worst provision."

Jewish school top

The best school in the tables was North Cheshire Jewish Primary School in "the leafy suburbs" of Heald Green in Cheshire, which offers "a traditional Jewish education".

We may not have the advantages of schools in the suburbs but look what these kids can do

Head teacher Norma Massel said staff and pupils consistently strove to work hard.

"Being a faith school does have some influence, especially regarding discipline, moral teaching, family commitment and community - creating a feeling of safety and security for the pupils," she told BBC News.

Heading the mainstream table for the most progress made by children from the age of seven to 11 was Cobourg Primary in the London borough of Southwark.

Mick Brookes of the National Association of Head Teachers said the tables should be scrapped.

"All they tell us is where there is affluence in society," he said.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said behind league table success was "the rigid teaching to pass tests and lack of real learning, narrowing of the curriculum, and the impact on pupils of the relentless and de-motivating pressure to pass tests".

The tables also revealed the area with the worst truancy rates were in London.

Of the 13 local education authorities which scored more than 1% for the number of half-days missed due to unauthorised absence, 10 were in the capital.

A school in Lancashire had the very worst rate of 8.3% - more than 16 times the national average for England of 0.5%.

Ministers make no apologies for 'ambitious targets'

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Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not publish tables

More schools judged 'inadequate'
22 Nov 06 |  Education
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03 Nov 06 |  Education
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24 Aug 06 |  Education
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09 Aug 06 |  Education
Testing 'should be intensified'
19 Jul 06 |  Education

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