Year Six Reading, Writing, and Maths Below Pre-Lockdown Levels

July 09, 2024
  • Year Six Skills Below Pre-Lockdown Levels

According to recent data, primary schools have not succeeded in restoring reading, writing, and math proficiency to pre-lockdown levels.

Second-key stage Results from the Sats test, which measures Year Six students' achievement in math and reading in England, revealed that only 61% of students this year met the desired level in the three main subjects.

It is still far behind the 65% mark reached in 2019, prior to the Covid epidemic and contentious lockdowns, even though it is up 1% from 2023.

The new figures add to the mounting evidence of the harm to children caused by the physicals closures to the schools in 2020 and 2021.

The current crop of 10 and 11-year-olds “experienced disruption to their learning”, the Department for Education said on Tuesday, “particularly at the end of Year 2 and Year 3”.

In individual subjects, scores were higher than last year, or the same.

In total, 74 per cent met the expected standard in reading, up from 73 per cent, and 72 per cent met the expected standard in writing, up from 71 per cent.

More than four in five – 81 per cent – met the expected standard in science, up from 80 per cent.

Overall, 72 per cent met the expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling, which was the same as last year, and 73 per cent reached the expected standard in maths, which is also unchanged.

However, only just over six in ten pupils showed a satisfactory standard in each of the three disciplines reading, writing and maths.

The former Conservative government had set out an ambition for 90 per cent of children in England to leave primary school at the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.

Some primary school leaders and experts raised concerns about the difficulty of one of the maths Sats papers this summer.

Catherine McKinnell, the newly installed education minister, said: “Despite the brilliance of our teachers, these figures show there are far too many pupils who are not meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and almost total stagnation in progress nationally over the past three years.

“This Government will give teachers and families the support their efforts deserve and make sure every child leaves primary school with strong foundations for future learning.”

However, teachers unions and campaign groups called on the Government to rethink the need for the assessments.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Year 6 pupils should be immensely proud of their achievements throughout this year, for most, the last in their primary school. They and their teachers and school leaders have worked incredibly hard.”

But he added: “We urge the new Government to reconsider the value and purpose of statutory assessments for schools, parents and children.

“They are given disproportionate significance and pile pressure on to pupils and staff, causing unnecessary stress and in some cases harming their wellbeing.

“The current high-stakes testing regime fails to value children as individuals, foster positive mental health, or encourage a broad and balanced curriculum.

A spokeswoman for campaign group More Than A Score said: “Sats fail all children, not just the 39 per cent who will start secondary school having been told they have not ‘reached the expected standard’.

“Parents, heads and teachers agree that Sats do not measure all that children can do and are damaging to mental health.

“With a new government now in place, it’s time to listen to those who know children and the primary school system the best.”