OXFORDSHIRE’S education standards have taken a huge leap forward after primary school children posted their best results for the last five years. Figures released by the Department of Education yesterday showed 82 per cent of pupils acheived the Government’s benchmark of level 4 in English and maths at Key Stage 2.
That marked a rise of seven percentage points from last year and was ahead of the national figure of 79 per cent.
It is the first time the results, for children aged 10 and 11, have been that far ahead of the national average in the past five years.
Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said the results were down to the council taking a “hard line” this year.
She told the Oxford Mail schools were being encouraged to ensure children were better educated at a younger age. She said: “When I came to this job last year and they told me our city had the worst results in the country, I couldn’t believe it.
“We have made sure to talk to schools this year and I think they understand we need to teach our children to read.
“This is obviously very welcome news and my congratulations go to everyone who has helped deliver such a big improvement.”
The figures showed 91 per cent of the 6,200 pupils who took the tests progressed the expected two levels between Key Stage 1 and 2 – up from just 84 per cent in 2009.
And in maths, 88 per cent of pupils progressed two levels, up from 81 per cent in 2009.
Oxfordshire was again ahead of the national average, which was 89 per cent in English and 87 per cent in maths.
School-by-school results are expected later this year.
Oxford city traditionally performs worse than the rest of the county, with nearly one in three children failing to achieve the benchmark last year.
Mrs Tilley branded those results “basically rubbish”. She put the most recent results down to hard work and a focus on early years education in children’s centres.
Last night, she said: “Overall we want to be seeing Oxfordshire towards the top of league tables rather than in the middle or near the bottom.
“This is one step in the right direction. It needs to be a permanent step in the right direction and it needs to be one of several steps in the right direction at primary and secondary schools all across Oxfordshire.”
She added: “A lot of work lies ahead for Oxfordshire’s schools.”
Girls outstripped boys in reading and writing, but boys had a one per cent lead in maths.
This was the first year schools were not required to conduct a writing test, with English results instead based on a reading test and teacher assessments in writing.
National Union of Teachers representative Gawain Little, who teaches at St Ebbe’s Primary School in Oxford, said: “These are a great set of results and the teachers and students who worked so hard to make them happen should be really proud.
“There is a real drive, not just to push up results, but to ensure that children are getting that deep learning that stays with them. And that shows in these results.”
Lynn Knapp, headteacher at Headington’s Windmill Primary School, said: “It’s really positive and a reflection of all the hard work going on.
“There has been a real emphasis on focussing on individual children, seeing when they are not reaching their targets and putting initiatives into action to tackle that.”
Headteacher of St Christopher’s CE Primary School in Temple Cowley, Alison Holden, said: “We have had a lot of negativity about how bad our schools are, so this is great.”
What children should know by the end of primary school:
ENGLISH – Pupils learn to change how they speak and write for different situations and audiences. They start to recognise meanings in what they read, exploring how language works and how it is used in fiction and non-fiction texts.
MATHS – Pupils become more confident about numbers, moving from simply counting to calculating more complex sums. They are taught to always tackle a problem mentally before using a calculator, develop their measuring skills and using a wider range of language, diagrams and charts.
SCIENCE – Pupils learn about a wider range of living things and materials, learning about simple theories. They begin to think about the impact of science and technology on the environment and carry out their own investigations. They are able to talk about their work and use scientific language, diagrams, charts and graphs.