Key stage 2 SATs results: Nearly half of pupils fail to achieve expected standard in ‘tougher’ tests

Just half of year 6 pupils have met the new expected standard in their key stage 2 SATs tests, provisional figures released by the Department for Eduation (DfE) reveal.

The DfE has stressed this figure (53 per cent) is not comparable to last year – when 80 per cent of pupils met the standard – because of changes in the national curriculum and accountability framework.

The government this morning set out the new “scaled scores”, which show how many marks a child would have to get in each test – reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG), in order to meet the “expected standard” of 100.

Today’s results show:

– 53 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths

– 66  per cent met the expected standard in reading

– 70 per cent met the expected standard in maths

– 72 per cent met the expected standard in SPAG

– 74 per cent met the expected standard in writing

Click here to see the top and bottom available scores.

Last year, to achieve a level 4 (the previous expected standard) pupils would have needed to get 46 per cent in their maths tests and 36 per cent in reading.

This year, under the new, tougher standards, those percentages have increased to 54.5 per cent for maths, and 42 per cent for reading.

SPAG has remained the same at 61 per cent.

It is not yet known how many schools will fall below the floor standard – a combination of today’s results and pupil progress – but the government has insisted that “no more than 1 percentage point” extra primary schools would be affected.

Originally, Nicky Morgan, education secretary, had said it would only be “1 per cent” of schools, but later altered that to “1 percentage point”, which increased the expected number by 160 schools (to 843).

The DfE told Schools Week it would not be announcing how many schools are “below the floor” until final results are published in December.

Morgan said the government had raised the bar to a more “rigorous system” and that said she “knew” it was “asking more”, adding: “This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new more rigorous system and it is no surprise that this year’s results look different to previous years, but despite that the majority of pupils have achieved above and beyond the new expected standard.”

She said today’s results were a “good start” and “vindicates [the DfE’s] decision to raise standards and will help ensure those who need extra help get the support they need to lay the foundations for a bright future”.

– The claim by Morgan today that the results are a “good start” has been called into question by the profession.


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  1. How ironic – let’s tests these kids under the ‘new, more rigorous system’ despite teaching them the old curriculum for most of their primary years… Marvellous!

  2. wizzobravo

    I cannot even begin to describe how abso-bloody-lutely furious this makes me. Morgan, Gibb and the whole pack of rotten spads from Policy Exchange need to be thrown into the Thames and washed out to sea. They are attempting to brand English schools as failing so more great examples of corporate governance, such as Durand, can take over perfectly decent schools. Their mendacity, arrogance and plain stupidity is staggering! Since when did making a test so hard to pass qualify as rigour? You don’t ask GCSE students to sit finals difficulty questions? WHy would you ask a primary age child questions that up until last year were of GCSE level difficulty?

    For idiocy, just look at Gibb’s response to education questions in Parliament yesterday when he tries to defend free market economics for teacher pay. It all comes out of the same pot, genius! Pay more than the school down the road to secure your maths teachers? Maybe start a bidding war? Who pays here and crucially, who loses out?

    When will these clowns get nailed to the wall for the appalling damage they are doing?

  3. How can child with a raw score of 60 be at the same level as a child with a raw score of 111? They’re both classed as ‘expected’. That’s how it’s shown in results I’ve seen. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve read it wrong, but I don’t think so.

    • Doreen

      My grand daughter passed for a grammar school, with extremely high results, yet het SATS scores show AS (achieved standard) This is a nonsense, since she is clearly streets ahead of normal achievement

      • And what is “normal achievements”? To me, you are boasting your child is superior to us minions. It doesn’t matter where your child goes for education, you can go to the best school going and still come out with poor results. Not all of us are wealthy enough to put our children in top schools. Good grades at school mean nothing if you child doesn’t know to handle things if under pressure. The vigors of life educate children.

  4. Joanne

    I am a teaching assistant and I am wondering how I am going explain to the students I support (who have a range of learning challenges) that despite making enormous progress, working their socks off, and only missing the pass mark by a couple of marks they have actually failed and may even need to resist their exam.

    • Sally

      I totally agree my daughter has missed a pass by 2 marks its so upsetting all the effort and work she put into it….talk about knocking confidence…gutted for her.

      • It doesn’t follow that in criticising labelling children as failures at 11 is ‘wrapping them in cotton wool’. And ‘LIFE’ is something that children are just tossed into – that’s why they’re not deemed to reach full maturity until 18. That’s why we expect parents to protect their children from unnecessary knocks until they are old enough to cope with them.

    • Katherine

      So many children who worked incredibly hard, will be devastated by being told they have failed. What a way to start their secondary school careers, with the confidence knocked out of them and the possibility of having to do them again. I worked with children on interventions on the run up to their SATS and the anxiety they were showing was unbelievable. Children who have made fantastic progress will be turned off learning. Well done Nicky Morgan et al…….

  5. My just turned 11 year old has gone to bed devastated tonight after being told he hasn’t met the expected standard. He has been crying since I picked him up from school. He worked so hard and we all supported him as a family for months leading up to sats. There were other children in tears at school today whose confidence is now on the floor. Disgusting.

      • Helen lee

        They should have been boycotted in the first place. My son gets his results today it’s absolutely disgraceful especially when they have worked so hard to get a decent result. No doubt if he hasn’t made the grade he will thinking he us a failure at such a young age.

        • Marcus

          Then it is your job as a parent to ensure that he does not feel a failure. If he hasn’t made the grade, then nobody needs to use the word failure – at 10/11 years of age they are old enough to understand what is going on here if you explain it properly. Your son may fail several things in life – driving test etc and learning to cope with failure is an important life skill. No doubt the bar has been raised too much, too quickly – the governments backtracking and Nicky Morgan issuing “don’t panic” statements is evidence of this, but if expected standards are not raised at some point, we will fall (further) behind the rest of the world with our education.

          • When a child has been working at their very best all their school life, have excelled in everything they do, know they give 100% to all their schoolwork and score the same as someone with 40 marks less, they are going to feel quite down about it. We, as adults, would too. As a parent, I can prepare my children for what might not be expected and have done. Unfortunately, the word ‘failure’ is used in the press and by government then there’s nothing a parent can do to prepare a child’s reaction when they hear that. Naturally, that’s how a child will then feel as the description is being used by’official people’.

          • Wizzobravo

            “We will fall further behind the rest of the world”? What is the evidence for this? It has certainly happened to Sweden, but then that has been because of the education reforms that our current government is so infatuated with.

            There is no statistically meaningful evidence to show England is doing worse educationally.

            Education is not a race because learning is not dependent on the outcome. Learning is a process, it is a continually evolving journey.

            If our educational outcomes are being used to promote economic security then something’s amiss, because we were the fifth largest economy 40 years ago, and we still are, despite years of improvement, or deterioration, depending which way you look at it.

            Politicians are very fond of saying that we engaged in some educational death race on which the future of our country depends. It’s bollocks. It gets them off the hook for years of underinvestment in the poorest areas of the country. It’s the job of the Treasury to stimulate the economy. In my opinion, it’s the job of schools to inculcate a love of learning.

            However, it is obvious that there are very many diverse views on what our education system should look like. Is it right that one minority view dominates via La Morgan? Post referendum Britain demands more consensus, surely?

    • I think you have to explain to your child that he has achieved and done the very best he could given the fact that these children have only been doing this new curriculum for two years, when in fact the tests were based on four years work. So what i am saying is your child has achieved so much given what he has been taught. Don’t let it worry him.

    • Amanda McDowall

      I’m so sorry your family and you poor child has gone through. I am a secondary teacher and we love the children. I hate to think of any child being that upset. I do hope he feels better soon. Poor little lad, so sad.
      Kind regards

  6. Patricia Rosales

    The owners of the world are planning something sinister , beginning with attacks on education and teachers . All member countries of the OECD , one way or another, have taken control of educational policies in all these countries , in Mexico the ” education reform ” is actually a way of disappearing labor rights gained through work and struggle of our national union , justifying it with the poor results on standardized international tests. Teachers around the world must rely to defend public education .

    • It’s part of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). It’s infecting education systems globally and is paving the way for edu-businesses to run schools. Global education is worth billions per year and companies like Pearson, GEMS and News Corp want a slice of it.

  7. GrimyNorth

    Does anyone else feel that ‘innovations’ like this are responsible for teachers leaving the profession, the difficulty in recruitment and retention, as well as driving families with the necessary means into the private sector?

  8. Keith M

    Get a grip some of you lot – my son who is not 11 for another 6 weeks has just achieved 100 in his Maths – we are ordinary people who go to an ordinary primary school – schools have got to be measured on something especially if they cant turnout half their kids with a pass!

    • Wizzobravo

      With respect, It’s how you define the pass that counts, not whether your son achieved the grade (well done to him btw). If questions on quadratic equations had been included in the maths papers, then perhaps that would be considered too hard for primary.

      If a child scores 99 and not a 100, then does that mean that child is worryingly less numerate?

      No one has a real problem with testing, it’s how the results are used and interpreted that counts.

    • To score 100 a child needs to get 60 marks on the paper (maths). My son scored 111, meaning he received 101 marks on the paper. How can they both be ‘expected’ when 120 is the highest score able to be achieved? At what point is a child classed as above expected? It sounds like I’m bitter, I’m not. I work as a TA and admire every child who sat this year’s SAT’s. I witnessed children crying within the first 5 minutes of the reading test and fall to pieces during the maths. It should never be allowed to be this stressful for any child.

  9. If the children had been properly prepared and rigorously taught then there is no reason why they would not meet the expected standard. The issue is in fact that many schools do not pay for the best and most experienced teachers. Many of these teachers have also become disillusioned and left the profession. The net result is a vast number of primary teachers working with no experience, little support, and often no more than a grade C in maths and English themselves.

    • H Goodhand

      Absolute rubbish. My daughters teacher is an excellent teacher, who along with her equally excellent TA did prepare the children adequately for the exam. Despite this my daughter failed her Reading Test gaining 99 as her score. She’s severely dyslexic and managed to pass the 11+ and get accepted into her local grammar school. Is she a failure? No she isn’t. If anything she’s been failed by the government!

  10. Doreen

    I have been teaching year 6 for 16 years, and this is the first time we have received such low results. How can you work towards a goal if you do not know what the goal is?
    The government have been making changes throughout the past two years, as they have been going along. It has not just been one big change and you know what you are working with, they are adding and subtracting all the time bits of the curriculum.
    I am all for testing , but please make it fair. I have students that are going to start their secondary school, with results that do not reflect their true capabilities.

    • Lynne

      I totally agree-how can they have been prepared for the tests if the teachers didn’t even know the content until weeks before? My so. Has always been above average in his school work and has never struggled too badly but has missed attaining AS by 1 mark in maths. I know the cot off has to be somewhere but feel under the old system he would of been classed as exceeding? Very disturbing! If the new levels are not there for the beginning of the academic year and teachers not trained to teach it with plenty of time-it should of been held back for a year. Unfair on all involved. Children, teachers and schools. No wonder there is a shortage of good teachers-I certainly wouldn’t want to set my work to unrealistic unknown targets!

  11. improve-nicky's-sats

    My son gave an excelllent high performance in maths, worked super hard in grammar and spelling to achieve a well above average score, but failed reading by one point i.e. “the 99 rule”, so overall failed to meet the standard. He was not taught “how to pass the test” but an enjoyment of reading, and forged his way diligently through two of the three extracts, the first being a very abstract text, and then ran out of time. No tears, just kicking himself for not squeezing in one more answer. Would it not have been better to have a poem, a short instruction or letter, and then a brief extract from a children’s story book as the hardest piece? Also, this readng test does not grade a child on confidence in performance reading or public speaking, which is such an important skill in order to be secondard school ready.

  12. Mrs B

    In the reading test, a raw score of 35 equates to a scaled score of 111, and only 22 out of 50 needed to reach the national expected standard, that doesn’t seem to be of a very high standard, can anyone advise as to why this is? Thanks!

  13. Mrs B

    My 11-year-old scored 64/113 in SPAG, 35/111 in Reading, 100/111 in Maths, but he’s only classed as ‘met the national standard’, am I right to think that he should be ‘above the national standard’? Not that it makes any difference, just curious. Very proud of him anyhow.

  14. Editha

    Mrs Morgan you have wrecked the confidence of our children. I just wandered if you are in our position? What would you do.

  15. Mrs A

    To acheive 100 in the reading test, a student needs to get 21/50. So a child born in September who gets 21 reaches the standard, and a child born 12 months later, in August, who gets 21 also reaches the standard. How is this fair?

  16. jacqui

    I think we all should calm down. My son did achieve over 100 in all but I just can’t see where the improvements need to be made. That’s what would help me as a parent. No question about it- the people making up the rules are educationally challenged! However I do agree that raising standards is good and educationally children are not achieving the same as in the 80’s. My tests were far harder – I have my old books from school and standards in teaching were simply higher. It’s a massive debate though. Hug your children and tell them BRAVO whatever! There should never be a tear if there is always laughter and understanding! There are lots of things wrong with these exams and a couple of things maybe right but a child should never be afraid to take on a challenge!

  17. Harry

    If I was a qualified solicitor, experienced corporate lawyer, I don’t think I will be the right person to make decisions about country’s education system. But that’s we had till today.

    What is wrong with simple percentage or a/b/c grades ? This raw score, scaled score – sounds like words from a management consultancy.. Probably that’s what government got anyway.. Pearson or someone maybe

  18. Julie

    Im so glad that Nicky she is no longer our education Secrtary what as this woman done to our children’s confident,for starting there next chapter in there life’s, but was it taken into consideration for the children with learning difficulties I feel that my child as been failed by this grovement and education there was never no support at all when I flagged it up to my child school that my son was struggling there was all promise that he would get exact help but he never did

  19. Julie

    Oh well Mrs Morgan you must be very proud of your self after what u have done to our children!! When they have got to go to there new schools this September feeling like they have failed , I’m so glad as a parent that your no longer in charger of the education department Secrtary !! I feel so sorry for our young children , my son will come home tonight feeling he had failed but to me he tired his best the only person as failed him is you Mrs Morgan

  20. My daughter has reached the expected standard in all areas and I am very proud of her. More importantly though her teachers assessment and her report was absolutely glowing!

    As parents we made a decision not to put any pressure on her at all to achieve to any standard. Our expectation was only for her to put in her best effort but not to worry about the results. Afterall, her primary school made it clear that the changes to the curriculum were very challenging, that the SAT’s results were only a part of the assessment her secondary school would take into consideration and her teachers assessment was actually more important than a set of test results. Had she not reached standard in the tests I doubt very much she would have been too upset and as parents we would have focussed on the positives in the report, of which there are many!

  21. My daughter passed all her KS2 SATs this year but had to sit a 2-hour SPAG again at secondary school along with the rest of Y7. She also sat the CATs. Is this normal for children to go to secondary and sit them again and will we, as parents, get to hear how they did? I’m really proud of the way all her year handled the uncertainty of these new tests and her primary school were at pain to emphasise that these results do not reflect our children’s full potential as well-rounded, talented individuals.

  22. My daughter is in year 4 and I am already worried about year 6 seats. The issue I have is that children are and will be already judged p prior to going to high school and placed in classes depending on these results. The schools up and down the country are facing because of split classes. My daughter is and was in year 3/4 as a year 3pupil and in year 3/4 again as a year 4 pupil and next two years she will be in 5/6 how can this be good for any child to reach their potential.the system has to change.

  23. Sue Radford

    My grandson aged 11 (end Sept he will be 12) dropped just 2 points across the whole of his SATs . Will this mean anything when he goes to his new school?