City primaries fall short of benchmark

Dr Sonia Sharp,Sheffield City Council

Dr Sonia Sharp,Sheffield City Council

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SHEFFIELD primary schools hit a stumbling block this summer, failing to narrow the gap between local and national standards.

But there is good news too, with only 11 of last year’s 27 schools still below the Government’s minimum level.

Exam results, published on Tuesday, reveal that 70% of Sheffield’s 11-year-olds achieved the required standard in both English and maths – with some schools recording their best results in years.

Yet the figure still falls substantially short of the national benchmark of 74%.

Primary school SATs results hit an all-time low in 2008, when Sheffield was ranked 147 out of 150 authorities nationally. Achievement has improved steadily each year since then.

In fact Sheffield has improved at twice the average rate, boosting its results by 6% over the last four years, compared with 3% nationally.

It is now 124th out of 150 authorities.

Results of this summer’s tests show that performance has hit a plateau, with 77% of pupils achieving the required level in English – the same as last year – and 78% in maths, down one point on 2010.

Council leaders admit that more needs to be done to ensure progress gets back on track next year.

“Strategies we’ve put in place here work. We now need to put in something more to ensure we get that next phase of acceleration,” said Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children.

Despite the setback, there was praise for individual schools, including Totley – which was in special measures only five years ago, but this summer achieved an impressive 100% pass rate.

Other high achievers include Lowfield, Hartley Brook, Sharrow, Nether Edge, Greengate Lane, Fox Hill, Pye Bank, Emmanuel Junior, Porter Croft, Rainbow Forge and Meynell.

Children’s services director, Dr Sonia Sharp, said: “One of the things that’s most pleasing about this year’s results is the improvement by individual schools.

“There’s been some stunning results, particularly in schools we’ve been working with. We’ve maintained our position and we’ll expect to go up again next year.”

Strategies being employed to boost standards include teacher placements, learning partnerships between schools and initiatives such as the ESCAL literacy programme.

Over the coming months there will be a renewed focus on improved leadership, quality of learning, a push on attendance and a strengthened collaborative approach.

Coun Drayton added: “We need to make sure, as a council, we are doing everything we can to help schools which may need an extra push to get the results they are capable of.

“The bar has been set high by some of the schools in the city but I firmly believe good results are not out of reach for all our schools.

“We need to aim to improve our position in the league tables by next year.”