Progress stalling in primary schools

Sonia Sharp
Sonia Sharp
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PROGRESS gained by Sheffield primary school pupils has stalled in this year’s tests - sending the city spiralling downwards in the national league table.

Final figures released today show pass rates by 11-year-olds in both English and maths at 71 per cent, up just one per cent on last year.

It means the city’s goal of matching the national average remains unfulfilled. Sheffield remains three per cent adrift.

Today’s table shows Sheffield ranking 130th out of 150 local authorities, down from 116th last year.

Around 5,500 children took last summer’s assessment tests, but the city’s failure to improve was down to the performance of just 165 pupils from schools all over the city, who failed to live up to expectations.

Maggie Williams, lead council officer on school standards, said research showed children had to make steady progress in each year group if they were to make the grade at the end of their primary careers.

“We keep data on the performances of each individual child in the city and it is our duty to challenge schools if pupils are not making the required progress,” she said.

Mrs Williams said final calculations could show the city’s pass rate had improved by one per cent.

But that was not good enough.

“We need to improve by two per cent a year at least if we are to catch up on national figures,” she added.

Four years ago Sheffield’s primary school results were some of the worst in the country, seven per cent behind the national average.

The gap slowly narrowed year by year - until now.

But executive director of children’s services Dr Sonia Sharp said there were a number of other positive indicators which showed the city was still heading in the right direction.

“Last year we had 20 primaries failing to meet minimum government targets.

“This year that figure will be down to below 16,” she said.

“Another good sign is that 67 per cent of our schools are now rated good or better by Ofsted inspections.”

Also encouraging for the council are improved performances by children eligible for free school meals, which improved by 5pc.

Pupils with special need were also up by 4pc.

“These are all positive signs that we are still heading in the right direction,” Dr Sharp added.

Pupils in Barnsley produced South Yorkshire’s best results, ranking 93rd nationally. Doncaster is 103rd while Rotherham is 142nd.

n See tomorrow’s Star for the full results table for all our local schools.