December 13 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
A third of Norfolk 11 year olds leave primary school without reaching the expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling, according to government league tables published yesterday.
The county was one of the bottom five local authority areas in England for these skills after only 67pc of students reached the expected level four standard in this year’s national curriculum tests, known as Sats.
Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, on 68pc and 71pc respectively, were also below the national average of 73pc.
The 67pc figure in Norfolk masked a 10pc point gap in grammar, punctuation and spelling attainment between the sexes, with 62pc of boys achieving level four, compared to 72pc of girls.
This was the first time students sat exams on these skills, which included questions asking them to spell words like ‘strength’ and ‘umbrellas’, and add missing capital letters and full stops to sentences.
South West Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “The figures show the majority of children are performing well and they, along with their parents and teachers, should be congratulated for their achievements. However Norfolk is still below the national average.
“In Norfolk businesses are very clear - written communication has never been more important. Children need to be able to spell well and write proper sentences to get on in life. In the modern world so much of our work is conducted via email that correct presentation is vital. The introduction of the new test encourages schools to focus on the basics of spelling, punctuation and grammar.”
Other results released included those for reading, writing, maths and science, and in each case the proportion of Norfolk students meeting the government’s target was below the national average.
One key measure which covers reading and maths, and a teacher assessment in writing, showed 70pc of students in Norfolk and Suffolk achieved level four or above, and 72pc of students in Cambridgeshire achieved the same. The national average was 75pc.
However, Norfolk County Council pointed to more positive data showing increasing proportions of students making the expected level of progress in writing, up to 89pc compared to 86pc last year, and 84pc in maths, up from 83pc last year.
Both of these reduced the gap between Norfolk children and the national average.
Mick Castle, cabinet member for education and schools, said: “We have very ambitious targets for Norfolk’s schools and supporting excellence in education is an absolute priority.
“Our strategy to support school improvement focuses on raising levels of achievement at key stage two and GCSE and we expect the county’s schools to close the gap and then exceed the national average in the coming years.
“We have just invested an extra £1.5m to support this strategy, at a time when there is a significant pressure on our budget. That is because we recognise that this is vitally important for the future of the county.”
Nationally, more children reached the standards expected of them in maths and writing, but the number reaching the same level in reading dropped.