Number of failing primary schools falling
The number of primary schools failing to give pupils a good grounding in the three Rs has halved in the space of a year, according to new Department for Education figures.
An analysis of data used to create new primary school league tables shows that in total, 521 schools in England are below the Government's floor target for primaries - 789 fewer than in 2011.
The latest tables show how more than 15,000 primary schools performed in national curriculum tests - known as SATs - in English (reading and writing) and maths.
Under the Government’s current target, schools are considered failing if fewer than 60% of 11-year-olds reach the expected standard - Level 4 - in English and maths SATs tests, and fewer youngsters make two levels of progress in these subjects than the national average.
The national average for English progress this year is 92%, and for maths it is 90%.
Schools that fail to reach this threshold are at risk of being closed and turned into academies.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said:"The figures demonstrate that schools have responded to the challenge. The floor standards we introduced were tougher and have improved performance.
"Heads, teachers and pupils deserve credit for meeting the challenge head on.
"Schools with a long history of underperformance, and who are not stepping up to the mark, face being taken over by an academy sponsor."
Across England schools have done better than last year with 79% of pupils reaching Level 4 in English and maths compared with 74% in 2011. In 2010 it was 73.5% . Overall, some 27% of pupils were high achievers - reaching the level expected of a 14-year-old, Level 5, in maths and English.
Last year, only a quarter of those with low attainment at the age of seven reached the expected standard in English and maths at the age of 11, compared to 34% this year. In addition, last year, 61% of those who were doing particularly well when they were seven reached Level 5 at age 11, compared to 72% this year.
Labour's shadow schools minister, Kevin Brennan, said: "Michael Gove and David Cameron are threatening standards by cutting back English and Maths tuition programmes for primary school children and with an old fashioned curriculum."
The rise in performance this year could be partly down to the Government’s decision to scrap the externally-marked writing part of the English SATs test.
Traditionally, marks for the test were lower than for the reading and maths papers. This year, for the first time, schools were given the option to mark the writing paper themselves, or to send it to an external marker.
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