The latest primary school Key Stage Two tables are published today and the Thanet Gazette reflects on the “chasm” between junior schools in Thanet in reading, writing, science and arithmetic.
In English, the number of 11-year-olds in Kent achieving Level Four - the nationally expected level - in Kent was up to 76 per cent, an increase more than two per cent on 2004. Nationally, the average increased rose by one per cent to 79 per cent.
In maths, 71 per cent of Kent pupils reached Level Four, compared to 69.6 per cent last year. The national average was 75 per cent. Today 30% of children fail to learn to read properly by the age of seven, which almost every child ought to be able to do, if correctly taught, including the very slow learners.
Coming top in Thanet is Monkton CofE with as much as 100% in English and science at Level 4, the recommended average for eleven year olds. At the opposite end of the scale was Dame Janet junior school in Ramsgate, which has its results skewed by a high proportion of special needs children with many from poorer backgrounds.
Among the other results at Level 4 are St Saviours in Westgate with 74, Salmestone with 60, St Joseph’s with 93, Drapers Mill with 57 and Cliftonville Primary with 82.
Almost twenty five years after I left teaching in Thanet, I have to wonder why a quarter of a century of educational reform and investment still appears to have left the schools and areas that were suffering then at much the same position in the league tables as they are today. My own politically incorrect opinion is that educational values start and are driven from the home environment and if that constant group of around 20% of parents, cannot see a future for their children beyond the boundaries of welfare and the estate then the cycle of disadvantage will continue, regardless of how much effort, goodwill and government money is thrown at our education system.
To quote The Times, looking at the results in general and including the failing Sure Start programme: "The government is failing in its top priorities and not for lack of spending. Child obesity is worse, truancy is shocking, classroom disruption and bullying are shameful, exam standards are collapsing, the brightest children have been failed as well as the least able, testing is at best dubious and the illiteracy level, masked by years of ill-conceived testing, is simply unacceptable. Nothing could be more disastrous."