Fewer children manage basic skills

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Fewer seven-year-olds this year mastered the basic writing skills they need, while standards have stalled in maths, science and reading, government figures showed yesterday.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Fewer seven-year-olds this year mastered the basic writing skills they need, while standards have stalled in maths, science and reading, government figures showed yesterday.

Primary school assessments across England saw writing results fall for the second year in a row, with 80pc of seven-year-olds reaching the standard expected of their age group. This was down from 82pc in 2005.

There was no improvement in results for assessments in reading, speaking and listening, maths or science.

In East Anglia the results reflected the national dip, though were still above average.

The figures, from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, are based on assessments by teach-ers in England's primary schools, which include results from tests.

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By the age of seven, children are expected to have reached level 2 in the subjects assessed.

Boys continued to lag behind girls, with their results in maths dropping for the second consecutive year.

Fred Corbett, children's services deputy director at Norfolk County Hall, said results had dropped slightly but a variation was likely because the results were based on teacher assessments and not exams.

"I am pleased that Norfolk continues to achieve key stage 1 results that are in line with the national average," he said. "Indeed, in writing, the number of children achieving level two at the age of seven is about two percentage points higher than the figure nationally.

Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, stressed that efforts to drive up standards further must be continued.

"There is, of course, room for improvement and we must strive to raise our standards even higher, so that every child in Suffolk receives the best possible start to their education," she said.

Ministers have spent more than £21bn on early years and childcare initiatives.

But the primary school figures followed a report earlier this week that found the government's early years education measures had yet to make an impact.

Schools minister Lord Adonis insisted he was pleased that nine out of 10 children were making the grade in maths, and 84pc in reading.

"We know that children who reach the expected level in reading, writing and maths at seven years old have a much better chance of leaving primary school with a solid foundation in literacy and numeracy skills.

"We must do more to raise standards even further, especially in writing. While there has been real progress over the last 10 years, we need to continue to push for year-on-year improvement because it is vital that all children gain a thorough understanding of the basics."

Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said the government's primary school programme had lost "momentum".

"It is a national disgrace that one in four boys doesn't even have the most basic writing skills aged seven," he said.

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