Seven-year-olds miss government targets

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A new report showing Key Stage 1 attainment by pupil characteristics has revealed the need for a greater focus and emphasis on the teaching of reading and writing in primary schools.

The Statistical First Release by the Department for Education shows that almost one in five seven-year-olds in England did not reach government targets for literacy this year.

Overall, there was a slight rise in reading and writing levels compared to last year's results, while those for maths and science fell slightly.

Girls continue to outperform boys in all 4 elements (reading, writing mathematics and science) at Key Stage 1, with the biggest differences in reading and writing. 80.9% met the grade in reading this year and 75.5% in writing - although both totals are an improvement on last year.

Pupils of Indian, Chinese and Mixed White and Asian origin had the highest proportions achieving the expected level in reading, writing and mathematics. In science, a higher proportion of pupils from Mixed White and Asian, Indian and White British backgrounds achieved the expected level than their peers.

A higher proportion of pupils whose first language is English achieved the expected level in all 4 elements than pupils for whom English is not their first language.

Pupils not eligible for FSM continue to outperform pupils known to be eligible for FSM across all 4 elements. The gap is largest in reading and writing. Among children on free school meals 71.7% reached Level 2 in reading and 66.4% did so in writing.

Pupils with no identified SEN continue to outperform pupils with SEN. The gap is largest in reading and writing. Only just over half of children with special educational needs (51.6%) met the target this year for reading - with even fewer (43.3%) making the grade for writing.

Pupils resident in the least deprived areas, as defined by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), continue to outperform pupils resident in the most deprived areas. The gap is largest in writing and smallest in mathematics.

Nick Gibb said: "Though there is a slight increase in the proportion of seven-year-olds reaching the expected level in reading, it is a real concern that almost a third of all Key Stage 1 children receiving free school meals are failing to achieve the standard in reading and writing. Additionally, over a third of boys receiving free school meals fail to make the grade in reading and writing.

Getting the fundamentals right is crucial to a child’s success in secondary education and throughout their adult life. That is why we are promoting the use of systematic synthetic phonics in primary schools and why we are introducing a short reading test for six-year-olds, so we can identify those who need extra help."