SAT English results have fallen for the first time since 1995. Only 80% of 11 year olds achieved the required standard of reading and writing, down from 81% last year. Maths and Science SAT results for Key Stage 2 remained the same as last year, at 79% and 88% respectively.
The statistics from the Department for Children, Schools and Families showed boys were falling far behind girls in writing. Only 40% of boys achieved the required standard, compared with 75% of girls. Boys also ranked behind girls in the reading element of English Key Stage 2.
Schools Minister Diana Johnson said the fall in English results was "disappointing" and has urged schools to facilitate one-to-one tuition for pupils who are falling behind in core subjects from this September. Ms. Johnson added that she hoped one-to-one tuition would be of particular benefit to boys who were falling behind in English.
Teaching unions have suggested that unreliable marking may be to blame for the results. Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said the quality of exam marking has declined because of the pressure on new contractor Edexcel to deliver results to schools on time: "We have had a number of concerns from members coming in, representing thousands of children, where the quality of marking has been erratic, has been harsh," said Brookes. The NAHT is to ask the new exams regulator, Ofqual, to investigate.
As a parent, do you greet this news with concern - or do you consider a 1% fall in exam results to be no more than a statistical anomaly?