City primary schools among worst in country

10:00am Friday 10th December 2010

By Liam Sloan

OXFORD’S primary school children are once again in the bottom 10 per cent of the country, according to the latest Key Stage Two results.

Out of 354 local government districts across England, just 22 performed worse than Oxford in English and 33 in maths.

The county’s test results are slightly above the national averageof 73.5 per cent, but within the city’s boundaries only 68 per cent of 11-year-olds are reaching the expected level in both subjects.

That compares to 80 per cent of children in neighbouring Vale of White Horse.

West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Cherwell averaged 77 per cent, 76 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.

Alongside Oxford in the bottom 10 per cent in England were Rotherham, Derby, Birmingham and bottom-placed Great Yarmouth.

But results did improve from previous years, with maths results seven percentage points higher than in 2008.

Councillor Michael Waine, who has been responsible for school improvement for five years, said results had shot up in several city schools where Oxfordshire County Council had provided extra coaching and mentoring for pupils.

Mr Waine said: “Where schools have embraced the opportunities provided by the local authority’s support programmes, we have seen significant improvements which is very good news for these schools, their pupils and the local community.”

He added: “The trend is positive. We accept there is more distance to cover but schools are going in the right direction.”

Detailed figures show pupils facing the biggest disadvantages underperform in Oxf-ordshire compared to similar children elsewhere.

Across the county, 67 per cent of 11-year-olds who speak English as a second language achieved Level Four in English, compared to 75 per cent nationwide.

And just 23 per cent of pupils helped by specialists under the School Action Plus programme reach Level Four, compared to 45 per cent across England.

Mr Waine said the council was “still striving to close the gap for the most disadvantaged pupils”.

Last month, Key Stage One results showed results for the city’s seven-year-olds in reading, writing and maths were the lowest anywhere in England.

Education data expert Prof John Howson said: “The results show some improvement, most noticeably in maths over the last two years, but for Oxford to remain in the bottom 10 per cent is still a serious cause for concern.

“The Key Stage One results are disgraceful, and frankly the Key Stage Two results are not much better.

“It is really important to get the education of our children who live in Oxford to a much higher standard than we are getting at the moment.”

He repeated his call for the city and county councils, plus Oxford’s two universities, to form a task force to identify the causes.

Rachel Crouch, headteacher at St Nicholas School, in New Marston, said results in Oxford were skewed by the number of rich parents who chose to educate their children privately.

She said: “The fact so many children disappear off to them means we do not get the full picture, but results are improving because of the hard work of teachers.”

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