Fewer primary children reach English standard

Author: By Alison Kershaw, Press Association

The proportion of 11-year-olds reaching Level 4 in English fell by 1 per cent
this year, according to figures published by the Department for Children,
Schools and Families.

The proportion of children reaching the required standard in maths and science
has also stalled.

The results showed:

* 80 per cent of 11-year-olds reached Level 4 in English, down from 81 per
cent last year;

* 79 per cent reached this level in maths, the same as last year;

* 88 per cent reached this level in science, the same as last year.

The test results were returned to schools on time at the beginning of last
month.

Teaching unions have warned that up to one in five of the results may be
inaccurate.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers
(NAHT), raised concerns today that the quality of marking has suffered due
to the pressure on new contractor Edexcel to deliver results to schools on
time.

The exam board took over the tests after former contractor ETS Europe was
sacked following last year’s marking fiasco.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Edexcel had done an “amazingly
efficient job under immense political pressure after last year” to get the
tests marked.

“However, we are concerned that this may well have been at the expense –
particularly in writing – at the quality of marking,” Mr Brookes said.

“And we have had a number of concerns from members coming in, representing
thousands of children, where the quality of marking – particularly in
writing – has been erratic, has been harsh, and sometimes just clerical
errors where there are two writing tasks and the markers have failed to add
up the two scores together.”

The NAHT will ask new exams regulator Ofqual to investigate, Mr Brookes said.

Ahead of today’s results, the Liberal Democrats predicted they would reveal
that more than half a million children have left primary school unable to
read or write since Labour came to power in 1997.

Recent trends showed those with no “useful literacy” at the age of 11 –
failing to reach Level 3 – running at around 35,000 a year, enough to send
the total over the 500,000 mark this time, the party’s research showed.

Education spokesman David Laws said proven schemes were not being used
sufficiently and called for smaller class sizes and increased school funding.

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