Imagine a country where education ministers know truth from fiction

Nicky Morgan’s conference speech yesterday played clumsily on claims of low standards before the Conservatives took over in 2010. Her words:

“I want you to imagine a country where 1 in 3 young people left primary school unable to read, write and add up properly. That was the country we inherited in 2010.”

The addition of the word ‘properly’ is an improvement over her earlier version which implied that 1 in 3 couldn’t read, write or add up at all.

Whatever level Morgan might have reached, her sensationalist claims show that she is not functionally literate or numerate in terms of the office she holds.

What does the Department for Education say?

In 2010 83% reached level 4 or above in the reading test. 17% is not 1 in 3.

As for reading ‘properly’, almost all these 17% are at Level 3 which requires that:

“Pupils read a range of texts fluently and accurately. They read independently, using strategies appropriately to establish meaning. In responding to fiction and non-fiction they show understanding of the main points and express preferences.

Now 89% reach level 4. So achievement seems to be improving, but it’s hardly as dramatic a change since 2010 as Nicky Morgan suggests. In fact, it was 86% in 2009 and 87% in 2008.

The levels are lower for maths, but 21% not reaching Level 4 at the end of primary school in 2010 is still not 1 in 3.

Time to stop the moral panics and go back to school.


More information can be found in a post by Janet Downs on Local Schools Network

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