Pupils' reading skills have improved massively during the last fifteen years thanks to the great work our primary schools have been doing. In 1995, 49% of pupils
attained a Level 4 in reading in their SATS; this year it was 81%
. Since Level 4 is the grade that teachers would expect 11-year-olds to get, this shows that standards have improved very dramatically. This news shouldn't be ignored amidst the furore stirred up by Michael Gove about the low standards amongst our most socially disadvantaged communities. It's clear that our poorest pupils are still struggling to improve. The fact that he has abolished one-to-one reading catch-up help won't help things in this regard. In my borough Tower Hamlets where my son goes to school, as with much of inner-London, the percentage of boys attaining below a Level 3 is not as high as many similar boroughs because resources have been used to address the problem.
However, let's not forget the vast majority of pupils are doing very well. From the reports that the government is issuing you'd think that all our state schools were failing their children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our schools are doing extremely well at improving reading standards. These results are more reliable than the PISA -- which uses questionable techniques for comparing countries against each other. Instead of knocking our schools for failing our children, we should be celebrating their great success and helping them address the continuing problem of under-achievement in our most disadvantaged communities. These results show that schools that are supported achieve great things.