More than 200,000 youngsters are still being taught in under-performing primary schools, with a child’s chances of gaining a good grounding in the basics heavily dependent on where they live, official figures suggest.
New data reveals an overall drop in the number of schools considered failing this year, but there are wide variations across England.
In some parts of the country, all primaries are reaching Government targets on performance, whereas in others, around one in seven do not reach the benchmark.
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Schools Minister Nick Gibb said it is “essential” that every child leaves primary school having mastered reading, writing and maths, adding that thousands more youngsters are now achieving Level 4 - the standard expected of 11-year-olds.
In total, 676 primaries are now considered below the Government’s floor standard, 92 fewer than last year.
These schools collectively educate around 210,348 children, according to a Press Association analysis of the data. This is about 5% of the primary school population.
To meet the Government’s floor standard, schools must ensure that at least 65% of 11-year-olds reach Level 4 in reading and maths national curriculum tests, along with writing, which is assessed by teachers, and meet national averages for pupil progress.
Those that fail to meet this benchmark are considered under-performing and are at risk of being turned into an academy, or taken over by a different sponsor or trust if they already have academy status.
The analysis shows that 23 local education authorities has no school falling below the Government’s floor standard, while at the other end of the scale, Doncaster, Central Bedfordshire and Wakefield have the highest proportions of under-performing schools.
On pupil attainment in reading, writing and maths alone, without including the progress measures, London continues to dominate, with eight boroughs in the top 10, according to figures published by the Department for Education (DfE). These are Kensington and Chelsea, where 91% of pupils reached Level 4 in all three subjects, along with Richmond upon Thames (88%), Greenwich (87%), Sutton (87%), Bromley (86%), Camden (86%), Hounslow (86%) and Havering (86%).
The other two areas making up the top 10 are Redcar and Cleveland (87%) and Trafford (86%).
The lowest attaining authorities, based on the percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, are: Poole (73%), Medway (73%), Doncaster (74%), Bedford (74%), Luton (74%), Peterborough (75%), Bradford (76%), Walsall (76%), Norfolk (76%) and Worcestershire (76%).
Overall, 90,000 more pupils are leaving primary school with a good grounding in these three key subjects, compared to 2010, the DfE said, adding that the difference in performance between poor pupils and their richer classmates is continuing to close.
Mr Gibb said: “As part of this Government’s commitment to extending opportunity for all, it is essential that every child leaves primary school having mastered the basics in reading, writing and maths - thanks to our education reforms thousands more pupils each year are reaching those standards.”
The results also show:
:: Voluntary-aided and voluntary controlled primaries - many of which are faith schools - continue to dominate among the top performers this year, with 74 in the top 1% of primaries, based on average points score alone, according to the Press Association’s analysis.
:: The number of academies in the top 1% of primary schools getting the highest average point scores has doubled since last year. Some 22 academies had a high enough score to make the top 1% in 2015 - roughly one in seven. This is up from one in 14 in 2014, when just 12 academies made the top tier.
:: Around one in five of the 676 schools considered under-performing are academies (20.3%), according to the Press Association’s analysis. This is up from roughly one in seven in 2014 (15.2%).
:: At the same time, council-run primaries account for 53% of schools below the Government’s floor standard. The rest are foundation schools, free schools and those classed as voluntary-aided and voluntary-controlled.
Around 579,000 pupils sat the tests this year. This is the last time that the levels system will be used to judge primary school performance as the measure has been scrapped.