Press release: 90,000 more pupils leaving primary with maths and literacy skills

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the improving test scores showed the government is delivering on its one nation vision for education, with more young people, from all backgrounds starting secondary school ready to succeed.

Today’s results (27 August 2015) come after the government raised the bar by introducing higher floor standards, banning calculators for maths tests and introducing a spelling, punctuation and grammar test.

The results also show that sponsored primary academies – which are replacing some of the country’s most seriously underperforming schools – are improving more quickly than those run by local authorities.

The statistics for the key stage 2 assessments taken in May by almost 580,000 pupils show:

  • 4 out of 5 pupils (80%) achieved the expected level 4 in reading, writing and maths – up from just 6 in 10 (62%) in 2009
  • the highest ever percentage of pupils reached the expected level in maths, at 87% – up 1 percentage point on last year. Since 2010, it has increased by 8 percentage points – equivalent to 46,000 more pupils reaching the expected levels
  • the proportion of children reaching the reading standard by the end of primary school remains at an all-time high and has improved from 83% to 89% since 2010 – 33,300 more children in total
  • 4 out of 5 pupils (80%) achieved the expected level in grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which is up 4 percentage points on last year

Over 14,000 more girls than boys achieved level 5 or above in reading, writing and mathematics – but the gender gap at the higher level 5 has narrowed to 5 percentage points compared with 8 percentage points last year.

At level 4 and above, the gap has remained stable at 6 percentage points in reading, writing and maths.

Sponsored academies rise

Today’s figures show that sponsored academies have improved performance, meaning thousands of children in previously under-performing primaries are receiving a better education. The percentage of pupils achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths has now reached 71% – a 4 percentage point rise on last year.

Those academies open for just 1 academic year have seen their results improve by 5 percentage points – from 66% to 71% while academies open for 2 or more years have seen their results improve by 10 percentage points since opening.

A growing number of converter academies are becoming sponsors, to help turn around more underperforming schools.

Performance in converter academies, which start from a high bar, has also continued to improve – with results up from 82% last year to 84% in 2015.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

A good grounding in reading, writing and maths sets a young child up for life – so I am delighted that 90,000 more children are starting secondary school with a firm grasp of the basics compared to just 5 years ago.

These results vindicate our decision to expand the valuable academies programme into primary schools with thousands of children on course to receive a better education.

Our reform programme is driven by social justice and we will continue to raise the bar so young people are prepared to succeed in modern Britain.

This is the last time that levels will be used to assess performance at the end of primary school.

To reflect the new more rigorous national curriculum that came into effect in September 2014, from summer 2016 pupils will be assessed against a higher standard and given a scaled score where 100 will represent the expected standard.

Crackdown on badly performing areas

Alongside national results, today’s statistics include breakdowns for each area of the country.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb today said he would be cracking down on the worst performing local authorities and demanding explanations for their poor scores, and a plan to raise standards.

Schools in Medway were the worst performing in the country with only 73% of pupils achieving level 4 in reading, writing and maths, down 1 percentage point on last year.

Those in Bedford, Doncaster, Luton, and Poole were also amongst the worst England.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

As a one nation government we are committed to driving up standards as a matter of social justice.

That is why I will be writing to the Director of Children’s Services and Directors of Education of councils that are bottom of the league tables and asking that they meet me as a matter of urgency to explain how they intend to improve the teaching of reading and arithmetic in the primary schools under their control.

Best performing local authority areas

Local authority area Percentage of pupils achieving level 4 in reading, writing and maths
Kensington and Chelsea 90
Richmond upon Thames 88
Sutton 87
Redcar and Cleveland 86
Greenwich 86
Trafford 86
Lambeth 85
Havering 85
Bromley 85
Wokingham 85
Camden 85
Bexley 84
Wigan 84
Warrington 84

Worst performing local authority areas

Local authority area Percentage of pupils achieving level 4 in reading, writing and maths
Medway 73
Poole 73
Luton 73
Doncaster 73
Bedford 73
Bradford 74
Peterborough 74
Walsall 75
Norfolk 75
Leicester 75
Nottingham 75
Derby 75
Wakefield 76
North East Lincolnshire 76
Birmingham 76
Coventry 76

Notes to editors

  1. The tests were taken by approximately 579,000 year 6 pupils in May this year.
  2. Read the key stage 2 (provisional) statistics for 2015.
  3. The spelling, punctuation and grammar test was introduced in 2013. Calculators were banned from maths tests in 2014.
  4. The floor standard (expected levels of school performance) was raised in 2014 to 65%.
  5. Changes to the administrative process of marking tests may happen from year to year and care should be taken when comparing results between years. Readers’ attention is drawn to guidance within the statistical first release on the impact of changes when comparing this year’s results with other years.

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