investment and radical reform of schools as figures show significant
improvements in primary and secondary schools since 1997.
for their achievements but said that more needed to be done if
Britain's education system was to become truly world class.
In July the government pledged an extra£12.8bn for education
over the next three years.
Latest statistics out today show that:
- in over two-thirds of local education authorities results for 14
year olds have increased since last year and all authorities have
improved the results of 11 year olds since the introduction of the
literacy and numeracy strategies;
- the government has exceeded its target of 50% of children achieving
5 good GCSE passes; and
- the number of children who leave school without qualifications has
decreased for the seventh year running. Now nearly 95% leave school
with a qualification.
Across the country, local authorities, many in tough areas, have made
significant progress. In urban areas the Excellence in Cities (EiC)
programme has led to a dramatic rise in standards, with nearly 80 per
cent of EiC areas reporting improved GCSE results in 2002. Other
- Liverpool where the number of 11 year olds reaching level 4 of the
National Curriculum in Maths has increased by 19% since 1998;
- Birmingham where results for 14 year olds have seen a 7% rise
overall in English, Maths and Science since last year;
- Nottingham where the number of 11 year olds reaching level 4 or
above in English has increased by 15% since 1998; and
- London where all Inner London boroughs have improved results for 14
year olds since last year
Estelle Morris said:
'I want to put on record today my thanks to all the schools, teachers
and pupils who have contributed to the unrivalled improvements in
education since 1997. Much has been achieved but there still is much
to do if our education system is to become truly world class.
'We have set tough targets and have made high demands. It has not
been easy but schools are rising to the challenge and standards are
improving across the board.
'The government's commitment to tackling underachievement is making
real progress but there is still much to be done. The Excellence in
Cities programme has seen standards rise much faster in deprived
areas than elsewhere. Even schools facing the toughest challenges can
'In primary schools the national literacy and numeracy strategies
have made a dramatic impact on primary standards, but boys are still
lagging behind girls in reading and writing and a number of schools
are still under-performing. Over the next year we will be targeting
extra support at boys and at the schools that need it most.
'It is essential that we capitalise on the gains made at primary
schools and improve standards in the early years of secondary
education. Currently one in three pupils are not making the gains
expected of them at 14. Every year of secondary school counts - not
just the exam years. Evidence shows that only half of the pupils who
reach level 5 at this age go on to achieve five good GCSEs but almost
all (94%) of those who achieve level 6 do so.
'A national strategy for Key Stage 3 was introduced in schools last
September and it is beginning to have an effect, but it is still
early days. It gives teachers the support needed to transform
teaching and learning in all the core subjects and ultimately across
the whole curriculum. It also focuses resources on pupils at greatest
risk of underachieving by providing catch-up programmes for the first
year of secondary school, mentoring and booster classes. The strategy
builds on the achievements made at primary schools and prepares
children for the variety of options open to them at 14.
'We have exceeded an important milestone today. Over half of all
school children are now gaining five good GCSE passes and for the 7th
year running fewer children are leaving school with no
qualifications. We have set tough targets to ensure that this
progress is maintained and extended over the next two years.
'We have laid solid foundations and I am confident that we will
continue to reap the benefits of this investment in future years. All
the results announced today reflect the hard work of pupils and the
first class support of teachers. With continued effort we will see
the results of our 14 year olds matching the advances we have already
seen in primary schools and at GCSE.'
This Press Notice applies to England.
1. The Statistical First Release on the Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 LEA
Level test results is available on the DfES website.
2. By 2004 the government has set a target of 85% of 11-year olds
achieving level 4 (the standard expected for their age) in English
3. By 2004, the government has set a milestone of 75% of 14-year-olds
achieving level 5 (the standard expected for their age) in English,
maths and ICT and 70% in science. By 2007, 85% will achieve level 5
in English, maths and ICT and 80% in science.
4. The Middle Years (Key Stage 3) strategy aims to raise standards
for all 11-to 14-year olds by spreading effective teaching and
learning to every classroom and is part of the government's wider
plans to transform secondary education The strategy sets high
expectations and challenging targets. It aims to improve the quality
of teaching and learning in the classroom by investing in teachers'
professional development. The strategy is not statutory but is
founded on, and develops, teachers' own good practice
5. The government is supporting expenditure of around£500m on the
Key Stage 3 Strategy to 2003-04.
6. Between 2002 and 2006 the government aims to increase the
proportion of those aged 16 who get qualifications equivalent to 5
GCSEs at Grade A* to C by 2 percentage points each year on average
and for all schools at least 20% of pupils achieve this standard by
2004 rising to 25% by 2006.
7. More than£500m has already been invested in EiC since
8. Excellence in Cities strands include:
- specially-trained Learning Mentors in every secondary school and
many primaries, who work with pupils to remove barriers to learning
and reduce disaffection;
- City Learning Centres, equipped with cutting-edge technology that
can be used by local schools and the community;
- extra opportunities for gifted and talented pupils through summer
schools, more challenging everyday lessons and out-of-school
- self-contained Learning Support Units to give challenging pupils
intensive help and support without disrupting the education of
their classmates; and
- more specialist and beacon schools.
SPEECH BY SCHOOL STANDARDS MINISTER DAVID MILIBAND TO QCA ANNUAL
In a speech to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's annual
conference this week, David Miliband, school standards minister said:
'Let me start with the unexpected: some good news. Our education
system is on the way up. Investment is growing, significantly;
standards of teaching are improving, remorselessly; recruitment
numbers, of teachers and other professionals, are rising, steadily;
and according to the data, national and international, standards of
student achievement are rising too, across the schooling system, year
The inputs are improving; we should expect outputs to improve; and
The next few years pose a special challenge - to move from catching
up with the rest of the world, as we have by cutting class sizes,
raising teacher salaries, improving pedagogy, to moving ahead and
giving our young people the best possible chance of making their way
in the world and contributing to economic and social renewal in this
country. We know the unique opportunity: between 1996/7 and 2005/6
recurrent investment in schooling will rise by over£1,100 per pupil
per year in real terms; and in buildings and ICT from£600m to
almost£5bn per annum. As minister for school standards, I know
this opportunity places special responsibility on government.
We have a responsibility to be an 'enabling government', clear about
the role of the Department for Education and Skills, devoted above
all to building capacity at local level for school improvement, as
funds and power are devolved to the frontline. We are the Department
for promoting high quality education and skills, not running every
part of the education system.
'We have responsibility to be coherent and consistent in our
priorities. For the next three years we have set out four areas that
will be the focus of our attention as far as schools are concerned. I
know that colleagues in FE are working for similar clarity. We will
focus on first, the promotion of strong leadership in schools. This
is not just about heads, but also includes senior management teams.
Second, the development of a distinct identity for every school but
also active local collaboration with other schools by every school.
Third, the remodelling of the school workforce to tackle teacher
workload and raise standards. And fourth the promotion of
partnerships beyond the classroom to support teaching and learning in
We have responsibility too to ensure that the infrastructure for the
governance of education, including the examination and testing
system, works smoothly; for obvious reasons this is our focus today.
The last few weeks have been difficult. Many students and teachers
feel that their achievements have not been properly recognized. Many
of you - from Examining Boards or from the QCA - feel that your
integrity has been questioned. Many parents are wondering about the
fundamentals of the system.
It is important that today I put on record the government's position.
I want to address my remarks to three different audiences: students
and teachers, examiners and the wider public. But to each and every
group there is one message that should be heard loud and clear. We in
Government are determined to get to the bottom of what has happened
this year, and learn the lessons for future years, so that we do
everything within our power to ensure no such problems ever happen
again. Because we are increasingly confident in the teaching and
learning in our schools and colleges, because we want to celebrate
the genuinely improved performance of our young people, we want to
reflect achievement and be seen to do so.
Immediate Action - Students come First
The students and teachers must come first. They have acted with great
responsibility over the last few weeks - passionate about their case,
tenacious in their arguments, but sensible about due process. The
NAHT, the SHA and the HMC deserve our thanks, and I am happy publicly
to acknowledge their role today. I am delighted that they are fully
supportive of the re-grading arrangements.
'The re-grading exercise is focused on units where grade boundaries
were shifted by more than the historic long run average, and where
the Chief Examiners did not concur with the Chief Executive's
decision. Thanks to the cooperation of all the awarding bodies, any
revised grades for individual AS and A2 units should be available
next Tuesday; for some candidates, the change of grade in one unit
could change their overall grade; and for some of them the change of
grade in one subject may lead to a revision of their offer of a
We have been working with UCAS and with the universities and colleges
to ensure that we do everything possible to help students who are
affected by the regrading. I am very grateful to them for the help
they have given us.
UCAS will be sending letters with advice to any student whose grade
changes. Students will also be able to get their results from their
schools or colleges. The UCAS advice will set out a timescale for
students to get in touch with universities if they do want to
Universities and colleges have made it clear that they will honour
offers of places which have been made and that they will look
sympathetically at every case. This may mean places being made
available next year, where courses are already full for this year.
Universities and colleges will also ensure that they deal effectively
with any financial issues for students.
We have made it clear to universities and colleges that they will not
suffer financially as a result of student movement arising from the A
level regrading. We will consider with them any implications for next
year's recruitment when we know how many students are involved.
So much for the mechanics of this year's rescue operation. Let me
move on to the future, and the role of exam boards, the QCA and the
Short-term Action - A Sound System
The first stage of the Tomlinson Review absolved teachers of any
blame for the current problems. One other group deserve mention. I am
talking about examiners, the people who mark the papers and without
whom there really would be chaos.
The Tomlinson report made a clear distinction between remarking and
regrading. The examination system in this country does place a large
burden on external examiners. There are issues for the future about
the balance of internal and external assessment, and the Government
is open to this debate. We must also ensure that the quality of
marking is consistently high across the system. But for now examiners
need to know that we in Government value and respect their hard work
and honest effort; this year's problems have shown how vital their
role is and how determined they are to see genuine achievement
recognised. There are no exams without examiners, so thank you to the
40,000 people who examined this summer.
Our task in the weeks ahead, in the run-up to the publication of the
second phase of the Tomlinson Review, and then in its aftermath, is
to ensure that every aspect of the exams system commands the
confidence of students, teachers and the general public.
Let me tell you how I see it. The Tomlinson Review concluded that
no-one had acted in an improper way, but that significant problems
had arisen. For some, this seemed like a contradiction. For me, it
pointed to something else: the difference between professionals
acting within the boundaries of their own Code, and the extent to
which professionals have been able to satisfy the demands of the
wider community that justice be done and be seen to be done.
Why do I say this? Society is very different from twenty or thirty
years ago, in many ways for the better. Partly as a result of the
growth in education and the expansion of higher education, citizens
are far more demanding and less deferential. People expect and demand
transparency and openness. Authority no longer comes from status but
from actions; respect from what is seen to be done, not who does it.
'This means that the exam system can no longer be a black box in
which professionals do what they believe to be right, and everyone
else is expected to accept what they are doing because they are
professionals. If any proof of our changed times were needed, it came
on the day Mike Tomlinson issued his report. Immediately, the BBC
Education website launched an online 'talkback' section titled 'Will
we trust the re-grades?' That is the new environment. Deference is
over. Our challenge is to harness the new assertiveness as a positive
That is why, over two years ago, Ministers decided that students
should have access to their marked exam scripts. But until now the
grading process has not been transparent. This will be central to the
second stage of Mike Tomlinson's enquiries. The key principle for the
Government is that the exam system matches public expectations of
integrity, fairness, objectivity and consistency. The foundation is
the continued political independence of the system. But we also need
- how to achieve consistency across the system, with all grades
accurate, valid and fair
- how to balance the recommendations of examiners with the
statistical evidence of comparabilities between years, to maintain
standards over time
- how to ensure QCA fulfils its key role as a regulator, commanding
confidence and trust; in this the depth, expertise and experience
of Ken Boston, as well as his fresh eye, is a real asset, and I am
glad he is starting today to put in place immediately new
arrangements to move the system forward
- and we also face a challenge to ensure that not only is the process
independent of Ministers, but is seen to be so.
We approach this debate with humility and determination. The second
stage of the Tomlinson Review is a unique opportunity, and we want to
make as much progress as possible on the basis of its
The Medium Term - More does not mean Worse
Let me, thirdly, address a wider constituency. In his report Mike
Tomlinson says that there is a fundamental confusion running through
the whole debate about our examinations system. It concerns the
difference between 'maintaining a standard' and maintaining 'the
proportion of students meeting the standard'.
Or as Edward Gould, Chairman of the HMC put it a couple of weeks ago:
'Parity of standards is important but, again, this should not be
linked to parity of results. The maintenance of standards over time
must not be confused with the crude and mechanistic maintenance of
Over the years there have been claims that exams have been getting
easier. QCA set up an international and completely independent panel
to look at the question. They did not find evidence of grade
inflation. The Panel recommended that QCA should put in place a
series of comparative studies to ensure that standards are
maintained. The Government takes this seriously and is committed to a
rigorous, world class system of tests and examinations.
But I am also concerned about the English curse, raised every year in
August, that 'more will mean worse'. Kingsley Amis coined the phrase
in July 1960, out of antipathy to the expansion of higher education
and the development of the polytechnics. It is important to
understand what is being alleged, and what are the facts.
Public tests and examinations show a clear pattern:
- The percentage of 11 year olds reaching the expected standard of
literacy has increased from 63% to 75% since 1997 and in numeracy
from 62% to 73% in the same period.
- The percentage getting five good GCSEs has gone from 36.8% ten
years ago to 50% today.
- The proportion of young people gaining 2 or more A levels increased
by more than half between 1991 and 200, from 22% to 34%.
There are two main, alternative explanations for this: first that
standards of teaching and learning are improving, and second that
tests and exams are getting easier. Let me explain how I see it.
The Government is determined to raise standards of teaching and
learning. Let me repeat: raise standards of teaching and learning.
For moral reasons to do with the fulfilment of human potential, and
practical reasons to do with the economic needs of the nation, we
have a vested interest in improving the inputs to the educational
process. It is what education policy is all about.
'The evidence, to which I have alluded, is that standards of teaching
and learning are rising. Ofsted inspections show that continuing
picture of improvement:
- Nearly 7 in 10 classes are now good, compared to 4 in 10 five years
ago; a quarter of lessons judged very good or better, compared
with fewer than 1 in 10 five years earlier.
- Results are improving: over 9 out of 10 schools have made
satisfactory or better improvement since their last inspection
- The number of schools reported as being put into special measures
in the Chief Inspector's Annual Report was 137 schools, compared
with 230 in the previous year.
This is what I mean by rising standards of teaching and learning. But
when it comes to what in shorthand is called 'exam standards', we all
need to be in the business of maintaining the standard required to
get a certain grade, not changing it. Students deserve proper and
consistent recognition for their achievements. A student who does not
reach the standard should not be awarded the grade. But if more
students do meet the standard they all have a moral right to the
correct and appropriate award.
Exams should be fundamentally criterion-referenced; the criteria
should be clear and public; and if more people pass, that should be a
cause for celebration. Those who argue against this, those who say
only the same fixed percentage of students should receive each grade
each year, are placing a block on talent and ambition, and imposing a
glass ceiling on student life chances.
We for our part reaffirm our confidence in teachers and young people,
working smarter, working harder, to achieve higher. That is a good
thing for them; it is a good thing for the country; and we do no one
any service by knocking their progress on the basis of hearsay and
Longer-term Action - 14-19 Reform
Let me conclude by putting this debate about marking and grading of A
levels into a wider context. Every country in the industrialized
world is looking at its system for 14-19 provision. We are no
exception. Our historic weaknesses are clear: a weak offer for those
who want to pursue a vocational orientation to their studies, and a
narrow offer on the A level track. Vocational GCSEs in subjects like
engineering, and the expansion of modern apprenticeships are part of
the answer, as in the broader Advanced level curriculum, introduced
by the Curriculum 2000 reforms which Mike Tomlinson says is
overwhelmingly supported in schools and colleges.
The Green Paper published in February looked in the round at the
challenges at the 14-19 phase. I was delighted to find, when I came
into the department in June, that the consultation on the Green Paper
was one of the most thorough and thoughtful ever undertaken, with
young people as well as teachers and experts having their say.
Most significant was the enthusiasm, first, for more coherence across
the 14-19 age range, and second for renewed collaboration at local
level, across the divides between schools and colleges, and education
and work, to develop attractive and coherent programmes of study for
a wide range of young people. In our response to the consultation,
which will be published when we are sure that this year's problems
have been attended to, we will seek to address for the longer term
the exciting opportunities to promote excellence across the system,
for all young people, stretching them to develop and fulfill their
potential, whether they are focused on general or specialist study.
We will not provide a quick answer; but we will set a direction that
I believe can unite professionals and young people alike.
The balance between stability and change is important. I make this
pledge today. We will not shy away from discussing reform, but any
reform will be based on a real consultation, maximising consensus and
effective implementation, thereby ensuring the confidence and
security of teachers, parents and pupils.
Let me conclude. We want to recognise student achievement and to
celebrate the hard work both teachers and students put in to all
public examinations. We also want the examining and awarding system
to become more transparent so that the public has the confidence to
join with us in this celebration. And we want to ensure that our
long-term plans for a more inclusive, coherent and transparent 14+
system of education and training build on the achievements of young
people and the professionalism of their teachers.
It is important that we learn lessons from recent events and resolve,
with the whole education community, to go forward together. We in
Government are determined to learn the right lessons; we do so with
an open mind; andwe do so with the overriding purpose to ensure that
young people get the education system that their potential deserves.
I look forward to working with you in that vital task.'