After a Good Start Welsh Pupils Begin to Fall Behind; SECONDARY STUDENTS FAIL TO BUILD ON PRIMARY RESULTS

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WELSH pupils outperform their English counterparts at primary school but fall behind in their teens, according to a new report.

Figures for the 2010-11 academic year found pupils in Wales performing better than those in England across all core subjects at Key Stage 2 level.

Children aged 11 and finishing their primary education last year were 2% more likely to achieve expected levels in English, 3% in maths and 2% in science.

But while differences between Wales and England was minimal at Key Stage 1, the gap was more marked upon entry into secondary school at Key Stage 3. Welsh pupils assessed aged 14 - ahead of their GCSE studies - were as much as 6% less likely to attain the expected Level 5 in teacher assessments than their counterparts across the border.

Overall, 82% of teenagers in England hit the Level 5 English mark - compared to just 76% in Wales, where scores continue to improve but at a slower rate.

The figures have altered little in recent years and support the view that Welsh pupils are lagging behind other home nations.

In 10 years, teenagers in Wales have gone from achieving an above-average percentage of five A* to C grades at GCSE to a percentage significantly below average.

Wales also returns fewer top grades at A-level and the international "Pisa" testing has painted an alarming picture of secondary school performance.

Figures released last year by the Welsh Conservatives found thousands of 11-year-olds in Wales failing to achieve expected levels in core subjects. There were 6,087 pupils (18%) below par in English and 5,635 pupils (17%) short of the expected mark in maths at the end of Key Stage 2 in 2010.

Professor David Reynolds, a government adviser and expert in Welsh education, said the figures came as no surprise despite a difference in the way pupils are tested. …