Floor standards: almost 700 primaries fall short of government benchmark

Almost 700 primary schools will face government action after failing to reach the minimum standards in maths, reading and writing, official figures show.

Figures from the new primary performance tables reveal that 676 primaries, educating around 200,000 children, fell below the floor standard for the academic year 2014-15 – 92 fewer than last year, when 768 were deemed to be failing.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said that it was “essential” that every child leaves primary school having mastered reading, writing and maths.

But there are wide regional variations. In some parts of the country, all primaries are reaching government targets on performance, whereas in others, around one in seven do not reach the benchmark.

To meet the government’s floor standard, schools must ensure that at least 65 per cent of 11-year-olds reach Level 4 in reading and maths national curriculum tests, along with writing, which is assessed by teachers, and meet national averages for pupil progress.

Those that fail to meet this benchmark are considered underperforming and are at risk of being turned into an academy, or taken over by a different sponsor or trust if they already have academy status.

The figures also show that 80 per cent of pupils achieved the expected level 4 or above in all of reading, writing and mathematics.

An analysis by the Press Association shows that there are 23 local education authorities with no schools below the government’s floor standard while, at the other end of the scale, Doncaster, Central Bedfordshire and Wakefield have the highest proportions of underperforming schools.

Overall, 90,000 more pupils are leaving primary school with a good grounding in these three key subjects, compared to 2010, the DfE said. It added that the difference in performance between poor pupils and their richer classmates is continuing to close.

Mr Gibb said: “As part of this government’s commitment to extending opportunity for all, it is essential that every child leaves primary school having mastered the basics in reading, writing and maths – thanks to our education reforms thousands more pupils each year are reaching those standards.”

Around 579,000 pupils sat the tests this year. This is the last time that the levels system will be used to judge primary school performance, as the measure has been scrapped.

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