Thursday, 7 August 2008

Primary schools are not stretching the brightest pupils

The Daily Mail reports that primary schools are failing to stretch the brightest pupils, as SATs results revealed falling numbers of those achieving the highest level.

Although this year's results show more pupils are meeting the 'level four' pass mark, fewer are going on to achieve 'level five'. The outcome prompted warnings from the Tories that teachers are under increasing pressure to scrape passes for their pupils while neglecting high-fliers. This is despite Labour investing billions of pounds over the past decade in literacy and numeracy drives.

The results, published yesterday, revealed a one percentage point rise in the number of pupils achieving the standard expected for their age - level four - in both English and maths, taking the totals to 81 per cent and 78 per cent respectively. Science results were unchanged on 88 per cent.

However, the numbers achieving the higher level five fell five percentage points in English - the biggest drop since the tests began in 1995 - one in maths and three in science. Official figures from the Department for Children showed only 12 per cent of pupils - one in eight - scored a level five in the three subjects. Pupils achieving level four needed to gain just 43 per cent in English and 45 per cent in science compared to 69 per cent and 78 per cent for level five. Level five pupils are expected to be able to produce well-organised and paragraphed work, use complex sentences and write for their audience and purpose.

A slight fall in Level 5 results and media are already claiming aren't doing their job well enough. I like this comment on the Daily Mail website:
"If you look at a school's special needs budget it goes about 99% to the less able and 1% to the very able. It should be 50% - 50% because there will be equal numbers at both ends of the graph, but we're not interested in stretching bright kids, only in nurturing the less able. It's an insane policy." - John Ledbury, Kings Lynn England, 06/8/2008 09:45

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