Primary school results make stark reading

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Almost two thirds of deaf children are not meeting Government standards in the three Rs, and the situation is set to worsen as councils cut support at school for deaf children, according to The National Deaf Children’s Society.

The government's school league tables data shows that 64 per cent are leaving primary school without grasping simple sums and sentences.

Key Stage Two results reveal that most deaf children are failing to achieve good standards of literacy and numeracy, compared with 19 per cent of children without Special Educational Needs (SEN), and many are also progressing at a slower rate.

The NDCS has linked these stubbornly poor levels of achievement to a lack of specialist support in the classroom, a situation set to worsen as councils cut services for deaf children.  The charity, which supports deaf children and their families across the UK, is making an urgent plea to councils to protect specialist Teachers of the Deaf, vital to deaf children’s achievement, from further cuts.

Jo Campion, Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at NDCS, said: “It is appalling that thousands of children, who have the potential to achieve anything, are being denied vital support at school.  Today’s stark figures show the result of this neglect.

“Even though deafness is not a learning disability, it is going to be almost impossible for deaf children to make up this lost ground at secondary school. Unless councils protect the vital support that deaf children need to learn, we are going to see them falling even further behind.  These results must be a wake-up call for Government both national and local to improve support for deaf children and ensure that they are given every opportunity to succeed.”

The results show that:

  • Almost three times as many deaf children (30 per cent) are failing to make the expected level of progress in maths by the time they leave primary school, compared with children who have no Special Educational Needs (SEN), which is just 11 per cent. 
  • For English, 25 per cent of deaf children are failing to progress at the expected rate, compared with 13 per cent of pupils without SEN.

Meanwhile, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that the Government would target the weakest primary schools in a bid to turn around chronic under-performance.

For the first time the data breaks down school performance for different ability groups and those from different socio-economic backgrounds.

It shows that only a quarter of children, who are classed as having low attainment by age seven, go on to reach the expected level in English and maths, Level 4, by the time they leave primary school.

The figures also suggest that up to 51,000 11-year-olds who achieved top grades at age seven have effectively gone backwards after being left to coast in maths and English, despite being above average in the three Rs at seven. 800 schools could not get all their young high achievers even up to the national average, leaving 1,310 primary schools below the standard, of which around 150 have been below the floor for five years in a row.

 This year’s Key Stage 2 statistics show that:

  • A third of 11-year-olds are still not doing well enough in the three Rs
  • One in 10 boys leave primary school with the reading age of a seven-year-old
  • One in 14 boys leave primary school with the writing age of an seven-year-old
  • The percentage of children achieving the expected level in both English and maths rose one percentage point to 74 per cent. But the proportion achieving above that expected level is down in English and in writing – and by eight percentage points in reading.

Mr Gibb said: "The seven years of primary school are key to establishing the buildings blocks of a child’s education, particularly in reading, writing and arithmetic. The figures reveal on a school-by-school basis the high academic standards achieved by thousands of primary schools in this country. But 1,310 schools are shown to be below the floor - and about 150 have been languishing with poor standards for five years in a row. It is these schools that we will pay particular attention to in the year ahead, whether through conversion to a sponsored academy or other measures."

Critics claim the figures are a damning indictment of a league table culture which has encouraged schools to concentrate on youngsters of low to middle ability at the expense of the brightest. Schools are judged on how  well they do in getting pupils to level four, the expected standard, in the basics and many teachers focus their efforts on borderline pupils to improve their league table positions.

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