Attainment in the last set of national SATs for seven-year-olds shows a slight improvement on last year, but remains few below pre-pandemic levels.
Results for the key stage 1 tests sat last academic year have been published by the government. The assessments have become non-statutory from this year, meaning schools no longer have to participate.
The results show that 68 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in reading, up from 67 per cent last year, but below the 75 per cent who met it in 2019.
In writing, 60 per cent met the expected standard, up from 58 per cent last year, but down from 69 per cent in 2019.
The proportion achieving the benchmark in maths rose to 70 per cent from 68 per cent last year. Again, this is below the 76 per cent seen in 2019.
And science attainment has increased from 77 per cent in 2022 to 79 per cent this year. It was 82 per cent in 2019.
Pupils faced pandemic disruption
The DfE pointed out that the year 2 pupils who took the tests last year “experienced disruption to their learning during the pandemic”.
“On-site attendance was limited to children of key workers and vulnerable children in January and February of their first year of school, with attendance mandatory except for self-isolating pupils for the remainder of the year.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said the sector should be “very wary of reading too much into one set of results” but said headline increases “are a testament to the efforts of schools up and down the country”.
“Despite the government’s failure to properly back them with the resources they need, teachers and leaders have been working incredibly hard to support the pandemic recovery.”
The results also show that 79 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1, up from 75 per cent last year, but less than 82 per cent, the proportion seen before the pandemic
Those who don’t meet the standard in the year 1 phonics check do it again in year 2. Today’s data shows 89 per cent of pupils met the expected standard by year 2, up from 87 per cent last year, but down from 91 per cent in 2019.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said teaching reading using phonics “has been a key part of this government’s focus on driving up school standards over the past 13 years, and our children are now the best readers in the west”.
“Today’s results reflect the hard work of our teachers and show strong progress as pupils continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”