Half a million 11-year-olds unable to read and write since 1997

By Ian Dunt

The number of 11-year-olds leaving primary school unable to read or write has reached half a million since Labour came to power, according to figures released today.

SATs scores for 11-year-olds showed one per cent fewer pupils reached level four in the national curriculum tests for English.

Since 1997, more than 465,000 children have left primary school with no ‘useful literacy’, meaning that they did not reach a Level 3 in their SATs tests taken at the end of primary school.

Today’s figures put the number of children failing the requirement for reading and writing since 1997 past the half million mark, according to the Lib Dems.

“It is shocking that under Labour, nearly half a million children have so far left primary school unable to read and write,” said Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws.

“These children are far more likely to fall further behind and be turned off education altogether.”

Figures for other subjects remained the same as last year, with 79 per cent reaching Level 4 in maths and 88 per cent in science.

But teaching unions cast doubt on the validity of the tests as a measure for literacy.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), told politics.co.uk: “SATs results are an unsatisfactory measure of schools achievement.

“Not only are one in five of the tests results likely to be inaccurate but their high stakes nature means that they are unlikely to give a true reflection of what children have done with their time in primary school.”

Debate still rages over the extent to which British school children are tested, despite the decision by children’s secretary Ed Balls to scrap the Key Stage 3 tests and replace them with school-based assessments by teachers.