CHILDREN in Oxfordshire have achieved their best reading, writing and maths results in five years.
More than 90 per cent in key stage one – reception, Year 1 and Year 2 – gained Level 2+ in reading and maths, putting them above the national average.
And 86 per cent hit the target for writing, in line with their peers in the rest of England.
In Oxford 89 per cent of children achieved reading targets, 83 per cent in writing and 91 per cent in maths.
It comes just five years after the city was the worst performing part of England in all three subjects with almost a quarter of children failing to achieve reading aims.
The results led to the Oxfordshire Reading campaign being launched, which was backed by the Oxford Mail, run by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and funded by Oxfordshire County Council.
West Oxford Primary School headteacher Clare Bladen said the campaign had “a really big impact”.Ms Bladen said: “We are always striving to improve and do better and to ensure that our children have the best possible start.
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“We are very much aware that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Project X Code had a really big impact. The staff who facilitated it really saw a huge impact.
“The fun element is key, particularly with younger children. We know as adults that anything in life is a lot easier if you enjoy it.”
Ms Bladen said her pupils also took part in other schemes such as Every Child Writes and mathletics, which rewards children for solving maths problems.
Every Child Writes, which aims to improve writing skills in seven to nine year olds, launched in January and is also run by the county council and the NLT.
Ms Bladen said: “It has definitely had a big impact on how children feel about writing.
“It is so important to break down boundaries about writing being an aimless task and a means to an end.”
Between 2012 and 2014 almost 1,200 pupils took part in the Get Oxfordshire Reading campaign at 63 schools across the county and on average their reading age improved by 13 months.
This year reading results in Oxford were up by 13 percentage points compared to 2010, writing by 12 points and maths by nine points.
Headteacher at Windmill Primary School, Headington, Lynn Knapp, pictured, said the reading scheme, which officially ended in 2014, had played a part in better results.
She said: “We know it was amazing for supporting children who were finding reading a bit more challenging.
“We carry on those procedures as academic performance takes time to embed.
“We know we made mistakes in the first year of the reading campaign with children who it did not work for.
“But we now know the children who can improve with it.
“Motivation is one of the big factors in children’s learning.”
John Henry Newman Academy in Littlemore was one of the city’s underperforming schools and is currently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.
But headteacher Jackie Ranger has been praised by inspectors for working to turn the school around.
- Delighted: West Oxford Primary head Clare Bladen
She said: “I am so, so proud of our children and absolutely astounded by their commitment and dedication.
“Their parents and carers see education as a means for their children to be successful.
“We have been involved in Project X Code and we have a progressional reading scheme which takes the best reading schemes and combines them.
“It is about teachers, parents, local authorities, schools and communities working together.”
As well as Every Child Writes the NLT is also running a literacy scheme called Oxfordshire Gaining Momentum in secondary schools.
It is hoped the scheme can help ensure literacy is improved across all schools, not just primary level.
Oxfordshire Gaining Momentum NLT manager Susan Aykin said: “Following the success of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign we are delighted to see continued improvements in children’s reading and writing attainment across the county.”
County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said: “Oxfordshire’s primary schools deserve credit for this, and I hope we continue to see that upward trend in the coming years.
“We want to see Oxfordshire among the highest achieving areas and there is clearly scope for further improvement.”