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New international study highlights shortfalls in primary attainment in English schools

14/12/2017 Joanna

England's schools have further improvements to make before they reach the level of attainment achieved by top-performing nations, according to a new report.

Analysis from the Education Policy Institute in partnership with the University College London Institute of Education has looked at how well primary school pupils in England are performing compared to those in other countries, in order to provide a more accurate international benchmark.

It was shown that England compares well with other developed nations at primary-level maths, but trails behind the leading countries. To reach the top level of performance, 90 per cent of pupils would need to meet the government's expected standard in key stage 2 maths by the end of primary school, but in 2016, only 75 per cent of pupils met this standard.

This means that in order to reach a world-class benchmark, an additional 90,000 pupils would need to achieve the expected standard in England, but currently no local authorities are achieving this level.

It was also revealed that England has one of the largest gaps between its highest and lowest-performing students out of all developed nations, with the top pupils achieving a very high standard while others lag far behind.

Report authors Natalie Perera and Peter Sellen said: "The tail of low-performing pupils supports the case for targeted support for vulnerable pupils throughout the course of primary school and early-years education. If England is to be considered world-class at primary in maths, the performance of pupils at the bottom must be improved."

The report also indicated that the 12 government-designated Opportunity Areas, which are considered the most challenged areas of the country in terms of social mobility, are delivering varied levels of school performance, as well as noting that there are other similarly low-performing regions that might benefit from Opportunity Area classification.

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