Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Almost half of UK children are leaving primary school without the basic skills


According to The Times, 10 October 2005, almost half of UK children are leaving primary school without the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Official unpublished figures obtained by The Times reveal that, after six years of schooling, 44 per cent of 11-year-olds have not achieved Level 4, the expected standard set by the Government, for the combined “three Rs”.

Ministers repeatedly emphasise that meeting this grade is critical for pupils to cope with the secondary school curriculum.

In an e-mail shown to The Times, a member of the Department for Education and Skills, responsible for compiling the data, wrote: “We have not in the past provided an analysis of those pupils achieving Level 4 and above in the [sic] all of the above subjects, but have done so for English, mathematics and science. This figure will be released in the final 2004 KS2 publication, scheduled for June 2005.”

Last week Ofsted, the schools watchdog, said that thousands of children were starting secondary school unable to read and write properly because of poor teaching in one in three English lessons.

In December David Bell, the chief inspector of England’s schools, said urgent Government intervention was required to rescue pupils from illiteracy. His endorsement of the traditional phonics methods of teaching English was backed by Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister.

Ed Davey, education spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, accused the Government of taking “their eye off the ball of the basic skills in primary education”. “This is hugely embarrassing for Ministers boasting of improvements and proves there are questions regarding how they are running the education policy,” he said.


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