Press release: New primary school tests show schools rising to the challenge

National results published today (5 July 2016) for the new primary school testing system in maths and English show that the majority of children have achieved the new higher standard expected of them.

This year’s results are the first to be released following the introduction of a far more rigorous curriculum in 2014 that raises the bar in terms of expectations of young people’s mastery of literacy and numeracy, bringing our primary school curriculum in line with the best in the world.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the results showed there was no limit to our children’s potential and that schools had once again risen to the challenge of ensuring children meet new higher standards and in doing so have equipped pupils with the knowledge and skills they need for success at secondary school and beyond.

Today’s results are not comparable to test results from previous years which were under an entirely different system of assessment.

Today’s results show:

  • 53% of pupils met the new expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics
  • 66% of pupils met the new expected standard in reading
  • 70% of pupils met the new expected standard in mathematics
  • 72% of pupils met the new expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • 74% of pupils met the new expected standard in writing

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

Nothing is more important than ensuring that young people master the basics of reading, writing and mathematics early on. The simple truth is that if they don’t, they’ll be left playing catch-up for the rest of their lives. That’s why as part of this government’s commitment to delivering real social justice, we have raised the bar on what counts as a good enough standard in the 3Rs for our children by the end of primary school.

We know we are asking more, but we’re doing that because we are committed to giving young people the best start in life – and today’s results show there is no limit to pupils’ potential. This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new more rigorous system and it is no surprise that this year’s results look different to previous years, but despite that the majority of pupils have achieved above and beyond the new expected standard.

I want to thank all those involved in the tests this year – including teachers and parents – for supporting pupils through the transition to a more rigorous system. It is important that all involved see these results for what they are – a reflection of how well children this year have performed against a new curriculum. I believe this is a good start that vindicates our decision to raise standards and will help ensure those who need extra help get the support they need to lay the foundations for a bright future.

Today’s results form only one part of how primary school performance is measured – later in the year results for pupil progress will be published. This, taken in conjunction with today’s attainment figures, will be used to determine which schools require extra support and possibly intervention. Earlier this year Education Secretary Nicky Morgan made clear that no more than 1 percentage point more primary schools will fall below our minimum standards for school performance in 2016 in order to give schools time to adjust to the new system. Ministers have also advised regional schools commissioners and Ofsted to take into account that this is the first year under a new assessment system when considering school performance.

Key stage 2 results no longer use the previous system of levels – instead, test results are converted into ‘scaled scores‘ – with a score of 100 being the expected standard. Any score below this means the pupil is working ‘towards the expected standard’, and any score above means the pupil is working ‘above the expected standard’. Previously the expected standard was a level 4.

This year the average pupil is performing above the ‘expected standard’:

  • the average scaled score in reading is 103
  • the average scaled score in mathematics is 103
  • the average scaled score in grammar, punctuation and spelling is 104

Notes to editors

The national results published in today’s statistical first release relate to pupil performance rather than school-level performance. A school’s performance is judged on both attainment and progress. Schools will know their progress scores in early September, and we will publish school level performance data in December.

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