Proportion of five-year-olds hitting school targets in Northamptonshire on the rise

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More five-year-olds in Northamptonshire achieved a good level of development in 2018, according to standards set by the Department for Education.

Over the last school year, 71% of the pupils reached this standard in the early years assessment, up from 70% in 2017. The average rate for England was 71.5%.

The department benchmark for children with a “good level of development” is to achieve the minimum expected level in five of the seven areas assessed.

These are personal, social and emotional development, physical development, communication and language, mathematics and literacy. Pupils are also assessed in understanding of the world and expressive arts and design.

The evaluation is made by the teacher in the final term of Reception.

The subject where most pupils met the minimum expected score in Northamptonshire was physical development. About 87% of the pupils hit the mark.

The lowest level of achievement was in literacy - just 70% of pupils met the Government’s minimum required mark.

The greatest improvement was in expressive arts and design. In 2017, 86% of children met the expected level, but this year it was 86.6%.

A total of 9,532 pupils were evaluated in Northamptonshire in 2018, 4,751 girls and 4,781 boys.

The average mark across all the areas assessed was 34.1, out of a possible 51.

In England, the average mark was 34.6 in 2018.

Girls in Northamptonshire did better than boys, scoring on average 2.4 more points.

Rosamund McNeil, assistant general secretary at the National Education Union, said that assessments help teachers and parents know more about children’s capabilities.

She said: “The purpose of this assessment is to gather information and help teachers plan the next stage for that child. Practitioners are really supportive of it and they are very worried because they feel the Government does not like it because it is not just limited to numeracy and literacy.”

Commenting on the better performance by girls, she added: “Gender is one of the factors, but not critical at this stage. You also have to take into account that 20% of the kids may have some additional need and it really matters which month in the year children were born.

“Every child develops at a different pace from the age of three to 18, and that is something that everybody has to understand.”

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said: “I want to make children’s literacy and narrowing the early years gap a national cause, a national mission.

“That’s why in July I set out an ambition to halve the number of children leaving reception without the right early communication and reading skills within the next ten years.

“Later this year, I am hosting a summit bringing together charities, businesses and other organisations to look at how we can provide practical support for parents to help them encourage their children to learn and develop.

“This will range from simple practical tools and guidance to investment in projects that have a proven track record of helping families most in need.”