13th February 2023
41% of year 6 pupils in England Left Primary School in 2022 Without Meeting Standards in Literacy and Maths
Government may miss target of 90% of pupils in England reaching set standard at age 11
The government set a target of ensuring 90% of children achieve the national curriculum standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary education by 2030. Currently however, attainment has slipped back to levels only slightly above those of 2015-16, and new evidence shows that that 275,000 pupils a year are leaving primary education without the right level of skills.
This downturn means that in 2022, 41% of year 6 pupils in England left primary school without meeting the expected standards in literacy and maths – 275,000 11-year-olds, according to researchers at the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). That is 50,000 more than in 2019. The report goes on to state that the attainment gap in education - the gap between the poorest and most advantaged, made worse in part by the pandemic, is at its widest level for a decade.
In the recent CSJ poll, only two-fifths of primary teachers believe their pupils will hit expected standards in foundation subjects and only 32% of teachers working in schools in the areas of highest deprivation were confident that most of their pupils would meet targets in numeracy and literacy skills this academic year, compared with 51% in more affluent places. In the first full year after school shutdowns, 41% of all year 6 pupils left school without reaching expected standards.
The CSJ report states that “radical plans” are needed to reverse the slide. It calls on ministers to turn to parents in an attempt to boost performance in basic subjects. Alice Wilcock, the CSJ report’s author, says “The idea that 90% of children will achieve expected standards in reading, writing and maths by 2030 is a far cry from reality. Teachers told us they are worried that most of their children won’t meet these standards this year. We need a bold plan for education reform if the government wants to improve educational standards for all children.”
A DfE spokesperson commented: “The pandemic had a huge impact on pupils’ learning. Our education recovery programme, backed by £5bn, has delivered nearly three million tutoring courses. We are investing more than ever before in our schools, including in literacy and numeracy programmes –helping us meet our ambition for 90% of children leaving primary school to reach the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.”