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Boys are catching up with girls in reading and writing ability, ...
Boys are catching up with girls in reading and writing ability,

the local education authority breakdowns of this year's improved Key Stage 2 results show.

After the first year since the introduction of a daily

literacy hour, the percentage of boys reaching Level 4 or above in

reading increased by 14 percentage points, from 64 per cent in 1998

to 78 per cent this year. The percentage of 11-year-old girls

reaching Level 4 in reading also rose by 5 percentage points, from 79

per cent in 1998 to 84 per cent this year.

In English overall, the percentage of 11-year-old boys reaching

Level 4 or above increased by eight percentage points, from 57 per

cent in 1998 to 65 per cent this year. The percentage of girls

reaching Level 4 or above increased by three percentage points, from

73 per cent to 76 per cent.

In writing, boys are up four percentage points to 49% and girls up

three percentage points to 64%. This is the first time since

figures have been collated that there has been an improvement in

performance in writing, reflecting the emphasis on spelling,

punctuation and grammar in the literacy hour.

School standards minister Estelle Morris welcomed the results

breakdown. Ms Morris said:

'My thanks go to all those teachers and pupils who worked hard to

bring in the literacy hour and helped narrow the gap in achievement

between boys and girls. In reading, the difference has narrowed from

15 percentage points to 6 percentage points. This is remarkable


'We are pleased by this improvement but recognise there is still a

long way to go in writing, where there remains a disparity of 15

percentage points between boys and girls. That's why we are training

every teacher of pupils aged 10 and 11 in the teaching of writing

later this term and next term as part of a new focus on writing.

'Increases in the number of pupils achieving Level 5 or above in Key

Stage 2 tests across the curriculum are testament to the fact that

both the literacy strategy, with its focus on phonics, spelling and

grammar, and the numeracy strategy, with its focus on whole class

teaching and mental arithmetic, are working for all pupils, including

the most able. In English, the percentage of 11-year-olds reaching

Level 5 or above rose by five percentage points from 17 per cent to

22 per cent this year. In maths, the percentage of 11-year-olds

reaching Level 5 or above rose by seven percentage points from 17

per cent to 24 per cent this year.

'Schools in a number of areas have done exceptionally well in either

English or maths, but in some areas schools have made impressive

gains in both literacy and numeracy. Both Rotherham and Wakefield

saw percentage points in English and maths up nine and 14 percentage

points respectively, while in Milton Keynes and Kirlklees English

and maths rose by eight and 14 percentage points respectively.

'Many of the LEAs which have performed well are in inner-city areas.

But some authorities need to do more to raise standards in their

schools. The government will work closely with LEAs to ensure the

new£170m from next year's Schools Standards Fund is used in

the most effective way to raise standards and help them meet their


'These results show how important it is for us to press ahead with

this approach in the face of opposition from those who would argue

that schools, regardless of how successful they are, should be able

to decide whether or not to use tried and tested teaching methods

for the 3Rs '.


1. Many schools took advantage of the£18m funding in the

spring to run additional literacy and numeracy classes for children

and saw increases in pupil achievement as a result. An additional

£36m will be made available for schools to run literacy and

numeracy booster classes from this November. This support will be

raised to£42m next year.

2.£17m is committed next year to the very successful literacy

and numeracy summer school programme. More than 1,200 secondary

schools will run summer school programmes specifically targeted at

raising literacy and numeracy standards. Each of these schools will

also run intervention programmes during the first year of secondary


3. The results issued today provide the latest information on the

achievements of 7, 11 and 14 year olds in the National Curriculum

for each local education authority in England for 1999. This is the

third year that results aggregated at LEA level have been released.

4. In maths, the percentage of boys achieving Level 4 or above rose

by 10 percentage points from 59 per cent in 1998 to 69 per cent this


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