NASUWT: ‘Notions of crisis in primary education are mythical’

Commenting on the publication of the Key Stage 2 SATs results, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“As usual at this time of year, the myth pedlars are out in force claiming that standards are unacceptably low, many children emerge from primary school unable to read or write and too many pupils leave primary school unable to meet the demands of the secondary curriculum.

“None of these assertions are valid.

“Between 1995 and 2009, the proportion of pupils gaining Level 4 or 5 in English increased from 49% to 80%.

“In mathematics, the proportion of pupils achieving Level 4 or 5 increased from 45% to 79% over the same period.

“Therefore, claims of a decline in overall standards, based on statutory National Curriculum assessment, are not credible and only serve to detract from the considerable progress within the primary education system evident over the past decade and a half.

“Notions of a crisis in standards in primary education are mythical.

“The argument that unless pupils achieve at least Level 4, they cannot be regarded as having made sufficient progress in terms of their literacy and numeracy skills to be able to read, write or demonstrate basic mathematical skills effectively reflects a serious, and perhaps deliberate, lack of understanding of the nature of achievement below Level 4.

“Almost all pupils who do not gain Level 4 gain Level 3, which does not equate to pupils not being able to read, write or to demonstrate basic mathematical skills and knowledge as claimed by some.

“For many pupils, reaching this level represents considerable progress in light of their particular background and circumstances.

“The contention that failure to achieve Level 4 means that primary pupils will be unable to cope with the demands of the secondary curriculum reflects a fundamental ignorance of the structure of the secondary National Curriculum and its requirements.

“The structure of the secondary National Curriculum has always taken into account that a significant number of pupils will be working below Level 4 and allows schools to address the learning needs of pupils of different abilities.

“This year’s results once again demonstrate considerable achievement. Teachers and pupils should be congratulated.”


Stuart Gannon
NASUWT Press Office

Tel: 020 7420 9681
Mobile (and out of hours contact): 07966 198894
Address: 5 King Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8SD