Headlines: April 30th, 2009

A study published today claims that Government numeracy and literacy strategies in primary schools have failed. In a report – ‘Rising Marks, Falling Standards’ – the think tank Policy Exchange says standards were rising faster before the strategies were implemented.

Analysis in the report shows that in the five years before their introduction the degree of improvement in literacy was 22 per cent and in numeracy was 27 per cent. Those rates of improvement slowed, it says, to 10 per cent and 6 per cent respectively in the eight years after the Strategies came into effect. The report shows that SAT results at the end of primary school are now improving at an average of less than one per cent annually and results for high-achieving pupils are falling year on year in all three core subjects.

Anna Fazackerley, Head of Policy Exchange’s Education Unit, said a decade on from the introduction of the strategies only 56 per cent of boys and 66 per cent of girls who left primary school in 2008 could read, write and count to the minimum standard. “Our education system is letting down our children at every stage, not only in primary schools. This report is an indictment of the failure of the Government’s education policy, which must be rectified,” she added.

The report calls for the National Strategies to be phased out and for schools to be given the freedom to choose which literacy and numeracy programmes they use. This, it estimates, would free up around 200 million pounds a year, much of which is spent on local authority consultants, and which could be used in primary schools. It also wants to see the creation of a new Standards Agency, which would administer national sampling of pupil performance and it urges an immediate end to trials of single-level tests, which were to replace SATs.