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The BBC's Mike Baker
The government believes standards at 14 aren't improving fast enough
 real 56k

Monday, 16 October, 2000, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Secondary schools in targets drive
School pupils
Secondary school pupils will have literacy tests
Secondary schools in England are to benefit from a 82m programme to improve achievement in maths, English and science.

The government announced the new numeracy and literacy schemes for 11 to 14-year-olds, to be introduced in September 2001, as it continues to shift its focus to raising standards in secondary schools.

Secondary school targets for 14 year olds
By 2004:
80% reach expected standard in maths
75% in English
75% in information technology
70% in science

By 2007:
85% will reach expected standard in maths
85% in English
85% in information technology
80% in science

While primary school test results have shown steady improvement, there has been concern about the lack of progress in the early years of secondary school.

In an effort to tackle early evidence of underachievement, pupils who failed tests at 11 could face re-testing at 12, to meaure progress and to stop children from being left behind.

The extra funding will help towards the latest set of targets for secondary school, which by 2007 would require 85% of 14 year olds to reach the expected levels for English, maths and information technology and 80% in science.

Extra funding for schools in:

By 2004, the targets require 80% to reach the expected levels in maths, 75% in English and information technology and 70% in science.

The education secretary also wants to see more summer schools which have helped boost achievement in what are often referred to as the "lost years" at the beginning of secondary education.

"Pupils are leaving primary school with a better education than ever before as a result of the literacy and numeracy hours and GCSE results are improving," he said.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett wants secondary schools to match the progress of primary schools

"But we need to do more, particularly for 11 to 14-year-olds where standards currently are simply not high enough."

But the Conservatives' education spokesperson, Theresa May, rejected the proposals for more testing and targets.

"The real problem in secondary schools is the lack of teachers and rising class sizes. If David Blunkett wants to improve standards he must address these issues," said Ms May.

Education secretary David Blunkett is also extending the government's special help programme for inner city schools with 180m to help a further 10 areas of the country.

The increased funding for the flagship Excellence in Cities scheme will increase the number of children covered to 870,000 - almost one third of secondary schoolchildren.

The programme gives schools dealing with the consequences of a range of social problems extra money for teachers as well as help for gifted children.

The new areas covered will be: Sandwell, Hounslow, Wolverhampton, Oldham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Luton, Blackburn, Enfield and Blackpool.

Other, smaller areas of deprivation will benefit as "excellence clusters".

The first chosen are Burnley, Dewsbury and Walsall, Croydon, West Cumbria, Folkestone and Portsmouth.

Mr Blunkett said the intention was to see the scheme extended to coastal towns, rural areas and ex-coalfield and industrial towns.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Education
Primary school test results improve
09 Jun 00 | Education
Grammar crammer for teachers
27 Aug 00 | Education
Secondary school spells trouble
23 Jul 00 | Education
Doubts over children's writing test
14 Dec 99 | Education
Poor writing worries inspectors
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