Okay, that isn't exactly news. As we've noted before, the previous Secretary of State had a very loose relationship
with facts and even the Telegraph
described him as Mr Sloppy. But it is a bit sad to find Nicky Morgan, and one of her junior ministers, continuing his track record:
Nicky Morgan today stated
"13 years of Labour… and 1 in every third child finished primary school unable to read, write or add up."
Junior Education Minister Sam Gyimah
: [In 2010] "One third of students left primary school unable to read, write or add up"
Now there was some good stuff in Nicky Morgan's speech. Especially welcome, and let's hope she means it, was her commitment to reduce teacher workloads. So it is a pity she felt the need to make a claim like this that simply is not true. A quick check of the DfE's own research
produces the following stats for 2010:
83% of children achieved level 4 in Reading,
71% achieved level 4 in Writing
79% achieved level 4 in Maths.
Note that both speakers used "or", making the claim that one third of students could neither read, write or add up. It seems clear that the statements give the impression that one third could do none of these. Now 86% got Level 4 in Maths or English, so the number that didn't get level 4 in Reading, Writing or Maths was at most 14%.
But the claims were not that children did not achieve Level 4, but that they could not read, write or add up suggesting they had learnt very little at primary school. Level 4 Maths goes a long way beyond being able to add up. I would suggest that a child not able to add up would be one who was not able to reach level 3. The same DfE spread-sheet finds that 94% of children in 2010 achieved at least this level. So it would be fair to say that at most 6% left primary school unable to add up.
Similarly a child achieving level 3 in Reading would certainly be below the expected reading age at 11 but would be able to read. 93% of children achieved at least level 3 in 2010.
I have submitted an FoI request to ask how these statements can be justified. I await the response with interest.
(I presume what both ministers were trying to say was that one third of students did not achieve all three, that one third failed to get Level 4 in one of the three subjects. But this is not what they said, and this is the department that continually calls for rigour.)
Note: Sam Gyimah also claimed that "Children educated during the Labour years the OECD said were the most innumerate or illiterate in the developed world". I presume he is referring to the 2013 OECD research
. England's performance was not impressive but it was ahead of Spain, Italy and the United States in numeracy. So Sam's statement was again a bit of a fib.