Council tackles the classroom divideBy Victoria Smith
December 29, 2011
Urgent work is taking place to tackle the vast gap in achievement between the borough’s disadvantaged primary school pupils and their classmates after new figures revealed Wokingham has the biggest void between the two groups in the South East.
Less than half of the borough’s disadvantaged pupils, which includes children eligible for free school meals, achieved the expected level in English and maths at Key Stage Two before leaving to attend secondary school at 45 per cent – one of the lowest figures in the country.
Councillor Rob Stanton, executive member for education services, said the borough was conducting urgent work to address the issue, as results published by the Department for Education revealed 81 per cent of other pupils left primary school with the expected Key Stage Two results.
When compared to the national picture, Wokingham’s disadvantaged pupils achieve well below the average of 58 per cent while other pupils achieve above the average of 78 per cent.
More work with parents to narrow the gap, which is the largest in the South East, is to take place in targeted areas to support children who need extra help.
The test results published this month show All Saints CE Primary School in Norreys Avenue as having the worst performance, with only 47 per cent of pupils achieving level four, the expected level, in English and maths, well below the expected 60 per cent benchmark.
Other schools in Wokingham which did not meet the benchmark of making sure children can read, write and add up to a certain level before leaving primary school are Highwood, Lambs Lane and Whiteknights.
Cllr Stanton said deprivation in the schools’ catchment areas had an impact on the results on all the schools except Lambs Lane, which he believes is a blip when compared to historic results.
He said: “Overall it is a very good set of results and we are pleased with that.
“I am disappointed with those four schools, but we are working to improve that.
“What we have got to do is give some more intensive support to those children as they grow up, because they need that, and we are also working most urgently to engage the families.
“I am anxious to engage the families around those children that need extra help.”
The results overall for the borough put Wokingham above average at Key Stage Two when compared to the rest of the country.
The figures show 79 per cent of children achieved the expected level four in English and maths, ranking the borough seventh in the country.
Many of the borough’s pupils also achieved level five, which is higher than the expected level.
Thirty eight per cent of children achieved this result in English and 44 per cent in mathematics, ranking the borough fourth for this measure for achievement in both subjects.
Cllr Stanton added: “I am pleased with these results, which are a great achievement by our local primary schools.
“We’re not complacent, however.
“Our schools want the best possible standards for our children and young people.
“Headteachers and school governors all have standards in English and mathematics as a top priority and as a local authority we will continue to provide targeted support and challenge where this is needed.”