Department for Education
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New Key Stage 2 results show improvement in maths at level 5

Schools Minister Diana Johnson today published the final Key Stage 2 results for 11-year-olds in England in 2009, showing good progress overall and excellent improvement in a number of local authorities.

Maths high fliers have also pushed up achievement at level 5 by four percentage points – meaning that 23,000 more pupils than in 2008 scored beyond the target level and are likely to go on to achieve a grade B or better at GCSE. The number of pupils reaching level 4 in the ‘three Rs’ of reading, writing and maths has remained constant.

While 98,000 more pupils are now reaching the expected level 4 or higher in English than in 1997, today’s results confirm a dip of one percentage point on last years’ score – down from 81 percent to 80 percent. The Schools Minister today said there are no excuses for schools that don’t make progress, and that continuous improvement is expected at all levels.

Schools Minister Diana Johnson said:

Over the past 12 years, schools have made huge progress in raising standards, and Ofsted said just last week that, in recent years, many more schools have become ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. This is down to the hard work of teaching professionals, Governors and local authorities coupled with record investment, and the introduction of National Strategies for the three Rs that were so badly needed in the late nineties.

It’s right to celebrate success. Our rapid intervention in schools ten years ago dramatically improved results – and fast. Around 100,000 more pupils now leave primary school secure in the basics compared to the mid nineties. At the same time, it’s also important to remember that while the majority of pupils meet the expected level, those who achieve level 3 are not ‘lost’ children. They can add up, write stories and poems and read and enjoy books like Harry Potter. Our catch-up programmes are designed to help them climb up to national expectations in the next stage of school.

Today’s figures confirm a small dip in English this year, but results in this subject are still up from 63 percent in 1997 to 80 percent today, which means 98,000 more pupils are now reaching level 4 or above in their English test. Parents, headteachers and governing bodies will be rightly concerned about this small dip, and so are we, but we’re confident that our early investment in schemes like Every Child a Reader, Every Child a Writer and the new pupil guarantee of one to one tuition for those falling behind will have a positive effect on standards in English in the coming years.

We know that the closer we get to our ambitious target of 78 per cent of pupils achieving a level 4 or higher in English and mathematics by 2011, the harder it gets. Seventy-six per cent of the pupils that don’t reach level 4 have either special educational needs, speak English as an additional language or are eligible for free school meals, and these are the pupils that need the most support.

But we want as many children as possible to leave school with the secure grasp of the basics and after years of the necessary top down approach, it’s now down to local authorities to get all schools making progress all of the time – no ifs or buts. We’ve seen how secondary schools can make continual progress through better support and leadership – and it’s time for primaries to do the same.

This is why we’ll shortly be setting out our next steps in primary improvement to support local authorities to get all primary schools making progress every year, and to tackle the stubborn few areas that are consistently achieving well below the 55 per cent threshold. We’re already working hard to drive up standards, by committing to providing all pupils that are struggling with the 3 Rs with one to one tuition and we’re making literacy and numeracy the backbone of every lesson in the new curriculum. Our improvement plans for primary schools are designed to make sure local authorities are using all of the support available to help take schools to the next level.

As the Ofsted annual report highlights, since so many schools of all types have now made the journey to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, there is no reason why every school should not aspire to more.

The figures also confirm that:

  • Seventy-two per cent of pupils achieved a level 4 or above in both English and mathematics, up from 53 per cent in 1997, but a decrease of 1 percentage point compared to 2008.
  • There has been a 1 percentage point improvement in the gap between boys and girls in science, while the gap between boys and girls in maths remains the same, and increases by 1 percentage point in English.
  • Compared to 1997, the proportion of pupils achieving the expected level 4 or above in English has increased by 17 percentage points to 80 per cent. In maths, the increase has been also 17 percentage points to 79 per cent. There has been an increase of 19 per cent in science to 88 per cent.
  • Both maths and science at level 4 or higher remain at last year’s highest ever levels, at 79 per cent and 88 per cent respectively.
  • Darlington is the most improved local authority, with an increase of six percentage points this year. This means that it has now hit the national target for 2011.

Diana Johnson also added:

Today’s figures demonstrate exactly why it’s important that we have a strong school accountability system, based on externally validated results. Tests in English and maths play a key role in giving parents the information they need on their child's level of attainment and progress after seven years of publically funded education.

The Government’s next steps on primary improvement and its plans to implement key features of the 21st Century Schools White Paper – like one to one tuition, pupil and parent guarantees and partnership working - will be published shortly.

Further information

The Statistical First Release showing the Key Stage 2 final results are available at These figures are at national, Local Authority and school level.

The results for 2009, when compared with those of earlier years, are affected by the removal of the borderlining procedure in the marking process. Advance notice of this effect was given on the Department’s statistical website, the Research and Statistics Gateway, in 2008. Readers’ attention is drawn to guidance within the SFR on the extent of this effect and that of reduced absence levels on comparisons of this year’s results with results since 1995.

As part of the continued drive to increase standards in primary schools, the Government has recently launched several new programmes. These include

  • One-to-one tuition in English and mathematics for those pupils who are falling behind in English and maths. This is being piloted in over 450 schools as part of the Making Good Progress pilot and from this year is being rolled out nationally across all local authorities. From 2010-11 it will be available to 300,000 pupils a year in each of English and mathematics and will be an entitlement to every pupil who entered Key Stage 2 behind the expected level and who is not on track to make 2 levels of progress.
  • Every Child Counts, which helps those Year 2 primary pupils (aged 6-7) who have fallen behind their peers in maths, where teachers with specialist training work on a one-to-one basis with those children. This is currently in development phase, and is intended to help up to 30,000 Year 2 children annually from the academic year 2010/11 onwards.
  • Every Child a Reader, which supports those children who are struggling to learn to read, ranging from one-to-one to small group work. By 2010/11 30,000 children a year with severe literacy difficulties will benefit from Every Child a Reader.
  • Every Child a Writer, which is a new programme aimed at years 3 (aged 7-8) and 4 (aged 8-9). It focuses on the areas of writing children find hardest to master. It is being piloted in nine local authorities, and the programme will expand in 2009 to support over 60 local authorities, before being supported all local authorities by 2010/11.

The new primary curriculum also centres around driving up standards across the board.

The Key Stage 2 ‘floor target’ means that all schools should have at least 55 per cent of their pupils achieving Level 4 or more in English and maths combined.

Levels in Maths

Level 3

  • has different strategies for getting to an answer
  • can do simple decimals and fractions
  • can do 2 figure additions and subtractions in their heads
  • very comfortable with 2,3,4,5 and 10 multiplication tables
  • can classify 2D and 3D shapes
  • can make and interpret a bar chart or pictogram.

Level 4

  • comfortable finding a way to solve everyday problems
  • clear and organised working out
  • can add, subtract, multiply, divide in the head comfortably
  • knows multiplication tables up to 10x10
  • self checks and estimates
  • can plot co-ordinates on a graph
  • can work out area and perimeter
  • can represent and interpret data in suitable diagram form.

Level 5

  • thinks mathematically
  • can explain own reasoning
  • can do simple equations, easy algebra
  • can calculate in fractions and percentages
  • can approximate
  • can calculate angles
  • understands the principles of probability.

Levels in English

Level 3

  • can read independently
  • good literal comprehension
  • can find main points
  • writes a sound sentence
  • simple style but clear and correct.

Level 4

  • an active reader – infers, predicts, visualises
  • reads ‘between the lines’
  • gets the point, the moral, the message
  • writes extended sentences, uses commas to chunk them up
  • chooses words for effect.

Level 5

  • recognises writing technique and bias, has a sense of the literary
  • writing is well-organised and paragraphed
  • uses standard English as appropriate
  • composes complex sentences, can use a subordinate clause
  • adapts writing to suit audience and purpose.

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