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Nearly 50,000 children let down by failing primary schools that let bright starters 'fall back into the pack'
49,678 top performers at age seven did not continue on same trajectory Department for Education describes trend as 'unacceptable'Results from SATs however show maths and English grades up on last year



00:35 GMT, 14 December 2012

Four in ten children who were high-fliers at seven achieved only average grades in national tests aged 11

Let down: Four in ten children who were high-fliers at seven achieved only average grades in national tests aged 11

Almost 50,000 of the brightest children have been failed at primary school despite a rise in headline pass rates, official league tables revealed yesterday.

Four in ten who were high-fliers at the age of seven failed to reach their potential and achieved only average grades in national tests at 11.

School-by-school tables for more than 15,000 primaries show that national results in English and maths SATs tests were markedly up on last year.

In 2011, 67 per cent of pupils achieved level four – the expected standard for their age – in reading, writing and maths, but this year it was 75 per cent.

However, concerns are being raised over provision for the brightest in some primaries after it emerged that 49,678 of the 125,800 pupils who were the top performers at seven did not continue on the same trajectory over the next four years.

They failed to achieve the level five in English and maths tests at the age of 11 that had been predicted by their results at seven.

The Department for Education said it was ‘unacceptable’ that children who made bright starts to their school careers had ‘fallen back into the pack’.

The tables are based on results in national tests in English and maths taken by more than 540,000 11-year-olds in England in the spring.

They show that a quarter of youngsters left primary school without a basic mastery of reading, writing and maths – down from a third last year. This means they failed to reach the expected level four in all three subjects.

The Department for Education said it was 'unacceptable' that so many bright starters had 'fallen back into the pack'

Failed: The Department for Education said it was 'unacceptable' that so many bright starters had 'fallen back into the pack'

The figures also show that two-thirds of pupils who were slow starters in the three Rs failed to catch up and reach the expected standard by the end of primary school.

But there were 59 schools where every pupil in the lowest-achieving group at seven had been pulled up to expected levels at the age of 11.

The number of schools failing to meet basic targets for performance fell by more than half, from 1,310 to 521.

Of these 521, 45 have already shut down or been turned into academies under the control of outside sponsors. Many of the rest now face closure or takeover.

Faith schools were more likely to achieve good results than other primaries, it emerged.

Top Of The Class

Some 62 per cent of the 896 primaries which brought all pupils up to expected levels in English and maths were faith schools, despite them making up only a third of primaries nationally.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the results were ‘excellent news’, adding: ‘It shows the hard work that’s going on in the system and has been going on for some years.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Every child must be challenged to achieve their best. These results show that some children who were struggling at seven have made real progress by 11 and are now performing as well, or even better, than we expect.

‘However, there are still too many cases where the opposite is true. It is unacceptable that children who made such bright starts to their school career have fallen back into the pack.

‘The difference between success and failure is so often great teaching. Our reforms are raising standards by improving the quality of teaching and delivering discipline in the classroom.’


Schools must ensure at least 60 per cent of 11-year-olds reach the standard expected for their age in English and maths (posed by models)