Sats results show drop in achievement following controversial reading exam

Debra de Muschamp, headteacher at Valley Road Primary School.
Debra de Muschamp, headteacher at Valley Road Primary School.
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An exam which left primary school children in tears has shown a big drop in those youngsters making the grade.

There was controversy in May when children sat the new tougher Key Stage 2 Sats exams with teachers across the country outraged and many parents even boycotted the exams because they felt they were too tough.

Debra de Muschamp, headteacher at Valley Road Community Primary School in Sunderland, was one of the heads who spoke out about the exams, especially the reading paper which she claims was beyond the developmental capabilities of primary aged children.

She said she had seen nothing like it before and the exam had seen even the most able children reduced to tears.

Results out today show the percentage of children reaching the expected grades in the Sats nationally has dropped significantly.

Reading has fallen from 89% last year to 66%, grammar, punctuation and spelling, is down from 80% to 72%, writing from 87% to 74% and maths 87% to 70%.

However, the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said the results are not comparable to previous years, because the tests were far more rigorous and under an entirely different system of assessment.

She said: "Nothing is more important than ensuring that young people master the basics of reading, writing and mathematics early on. The simple truth is that if they don’t, they’ll be left playing catch-up for the rest of their lives.

"That’s why as part of this government’s commitment to delivering real social justice, we have raised the bar on what counts as a good enough standard in the 3Rs for our children by the end of primary school.

"We know we are asking more, but we’re doing that because we are committed to giving young people the best start in life - and today’s results show there is no limit to pupils’ potential.

"This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new more rigorous system and it is no surprise that this year’s results look different to previous years, but despite that the majority of pupils have achieved above and beyond the new expected standard.

"I want to thank all those involved in the tests this year - including teachers and parents - for supporting pupils through the transition to a more rigorous system. It is important that all involved see these results for what they are - a reflection of how well children this year have performed against a new curriculum."

Ms de Muschamp, said even though the youngsters at Valley Road Primary had performed better than the national average, with 72% reaching the required standard in reading, 89% in GPS and 89% in maths, the whole thing has been extremely stressful for everyone involved.

She said: ""We have dropped dramatically in the reading test but kept up the high standards in maths, GPS and writing.

"From my information from colleagues it appears most have dropped and some significantly and of course because reading is low now, the Reading Writing and Maths score that goes into the floor standard calculation is much lower.

"Our team is disappointed and feel let down by this process."