Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Thursday, 6 December 2007

School tables show better results

By Gary Eason
Education editor, BBC News website

classroom at The Deans
The top school puts an emphasis on daily reading homework

The school-by-school test results in this year's primary league tables for England show a general improvement.

A total of 255 schools had the maximum combined score of 300 in the English, maths and science "Sats" tests taken by 11-year-olds, up from 209 last year.

Improvements were seen in 54% of schools with 2% unchanged - though 44% had worse results than last year.

Unions defended those at the bottom of the tables, including a few whose results were quashed for malpractice.

results published for 13,446 schools
255 achieved maximum Level 4 score of 300
highest average points per pupil: 32.8
lowest was 20.7
54% of schools did better than last year
44% had worse results

The final test results for each school confirm the national attainment averages first published in August.

These were that 80% of Year 6 pupils reached the expected standard for their age - national curriculum Level 4 - in English, 77% in maths and 88% in science.

This fell short of the government's old target of 85% reaching the standard in English and 85% in maths.

Ministers now want all schools to have at least 78% achieving the standard in both subjects by 2011.

This year 29% of pupils failed to manage that, a majority of them boys.

head teacher Frances Hartley
The key is that from Reception class through to Year 6 our children read on a daily basis with their parents
Frances Hartley
Head teacher, The Deans

But there was 100% attainment in each subject at 255 schools, which had the maximum Level 4 "aggregate" score of 300.

The one which tops this year's BBC News tables is The Deans Primary in Swinton, Lancashire, which had the highest average point score per pupil, 32.8.

Head teacher Frances Hartley said it was no "Sats factory": the foundation of its success was getting the children to read each day with their parents.

The "most improved" of recent years, making gains each year, was Furrow Community School in Middleton, Lancashire, whose score has gone from 103 to 285.

A mark of the general gains is that the average aggregate score of the worst performing 200 schools was three percentage points higher than that of last year's worst 200.

Among mainstream local authorities the best performer was, as usual, Richmond-upon-Thames whose schools had an average score of 266.

The worst, on 216, was again the inner London borough of Hackney - though it has improved from 210 last year.

Progress measure

This year a new "contextual" value added (CVA) measure, based around 100, was applied to primary schools.

It sets pupils' progress in the context of their background circumstances, factoring in such things as poverty and ethnicity.

The top mainstream school on this measure was St Joseph's RC School in Oldham, with 104.3.

Graph of primary school results
The results trend over recent years

The best special school, with an even higher CVA of 104.8, was Orrets Meadow School in Wirral.

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis paid tribute to pupils and teachers and said standards "have never been higher".

"But we are far from complacent and know there is more to do to ensure that every pupil has the opportunity to reach their full potential and we have a world class system everywhere," he said.

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove drew attention to the way England's standing had fallen in recent international rankings of children's attainment.

"Four in 10 pupils leave primary school without mastering the basics," he said.

"We must give teachers the powers they need to restore order in schools and get back to tried and tested reading methods."


But Steve Sinnott of the National Union of Teachers said the percentages of children achieving Level 4 in the core subjects gave the lie to critics who said standards were falling.

"The shame is that these excellent results are hitched to a league table system which undermines a large number of successful schools," he said.

"League tables are beyond repair. Attempts to modify league tables only serve to emphasise their unfairness."

And the National Association of Head Teachers said in a statement: "There is no doubt that at best, league tables of raw test data simply show where rich people live.

"At worst, they are entirely demoralising to schools and whole communities who are at this point in time working as hard as they can to bring high quality education to hearts and minds that have never enjoyed that privilege before in the history of this nation."

Enquiries by the National Assessment Agency led to the results being annulled for malpractice in all three subjects at four schools. A fifth was stripped of its English results.

NAHT general secretary Mick Brookes said: "This demonstrates the extreme pressure that some schools and some teachers feel to perform to targets which may not reflect the ability of the children in their midst."

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