Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Primary Schools in English Crisis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Primary Schools in English Crisis

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Ross Education Correspondent


THE number of 11-year-olds passing Sats in English has fallen for the first time since the exam was introduced in 1995, the Department for Children admitted today.

An estimated 115,000 children, one in five, left primary school last month two years behind their classmates, unable to read and write to the required standard.

The children who took Sats this year were born during Tony Blair's first term in office, which he won on his famous promise to prioritise "education, education, education". When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister two years ago he too declared: "Education is my passion."

But critics said today's results showed the Government's school policies had run out of steam. Shadow Children's Secretary Michael Gove said: "This is the final proof that Labour, elected on a platform to raise standards in education, has failed to deliver."

The Government has spent [pounds sterling]2 billion on improving literacy and numeracy since 1997, only to see grades stall in recent years and now fall.

The figures brought fresh calls for ministers to scrap Sats and seek a new approach to primary education. The results from the Department for Children show: A one per cent drop this year to 80 per cent in the proportion of pupils passing English at Level 4, the grade expected of 11year-olds .

No improvement in maths and science since last year, with 79 per cent of pupils reaching the grade expected of their age group in numeracy and 88 per cent in science.

In London, 39 per cent of pupils -- about 30,000 children -- failed to pass English and maths at Level 4. Ministers said pupils who did not pass the tests at the Government's target Level 4 were not illiterate or innumerate and claimed that Level 3 was acceptable.

Soon after Tony Blair took power ministers introduced a national literacy strategy, in which every primary school child spent an hour a day learning the basics of reading and writing. …

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