Letter from Sir Andrew Dilnot to Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP 18122014

Letter from Sir Andrew Dilnot to Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP 18122014
UK Statistics Authority
1 Drummond Gate
0845 604 1857
[email protected]
Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE
Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP
Secretary of State for Education
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
18 December 2014
Dear Secretary of State
On 10 December, Hansard reports that you made the following statement in the House of
“If the shadow Secretary of State wants to see a failure to prepare young people for the
life of work, he ought to be thinking about the fact that under the previous Labour
Government one in three of our young people were leaving primary school unable to
read and write. That is a shocking statistic.” 1
On 4 December, I copied to you a letter regarding a statement which you made at the
Conservative Party conference 2 to the effect that, under the last Government, one in every
three children finished primary school “unable to read, write or add up”. 3
The National Statistics on school performance show that, in tests taken in May 2010, 83% of
pupils were assessed as reaching level four (the expected level at age 11), or above, at key
stage 2 in reading, 71% in writing, and 79% in mathematics. Your Department has indicated
that the figures you were referring to can be found in Table 2C of the 2014 statistical release
National curriculum assessments at key stage 2 in England: 2014, which gives a time series
of figures for pupils achieving level four or above in all three of reading, writing and
mathematics. 4 This statistical release shows that in 2010, 64% of pupils achieved level 4 or
above in all three of reading, writing and mathematics.
I enclose published definitions of the levels, and note that children who do not reach level
four, but nevertheless attain level three, are able to “read a range of texts fluently and
accurately”, write in a way which is “often organised, imaginative and clear”, and they can
“add and subtract numbers with two digits mentally and numbers with three digits using
HC Deb 10 December 2014, c894
written methods”. The National Statistics on school performance show that, in tests taken in
May 2010, 91% of pupils were assessed as reaching level three or above at key stage 2 in
reading, 93% in writing, and 93% in mathematics.
The chart below shows the proportion of children who achieved level three or above, and
level four or above, in each of reading, writing and mathematics at key stage 2 between
2010 and 2014. Data are included in tabular format in the attached Annex.
Key stage 2: Percentage of pupils achieving level four or above, and level three or
above, in reading, writing and mathematics
Source: Department for Education, National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2. See links
provided in the Annex.
Note: For writing, results for 2010 and 2011 are based on writing tests. From 2012 onwards, results
are based on teacher assessments. Figures for 2011 and earlier are therefore not comparable with
those from 2012 onwards.
I think that it would be appropriate for you to reconsider these comments. You may also wish
to take advice on whether the official parliamentary record should be corrected.
Yours sincerely
Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE
Key stage 2: Attainment target level definitions (levels 1-5)
Reading 5
Level 1
Pupils recognise familiar words in simple texts. They use their knowledge of
letters and sound-symbol relationships in order to read words and to establish
meaning when reading aloud. In these activities they sometimes require
support. They express their response to poems, stories and non-fiction by
identifying aspects they like.
Level 2
Pupils' reading of simple texts shows understanding and is generally
accurate. They express opinions about major events or ideas in stories,
poems and non-fiction. They use more than one strategy, such as phonic,
graphic, syntactic and contextual, in reading unfamiliar words and
establishing meaning.
Level 3
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. They use their knowledge of the alphabet to locate books and
find information.
Level 4
In responding to a range of texts, pupils show understanding of significant
ideas, themes, events and characters, beginning to use inference and
deduction. They refer to the text when explaining their views. They locate and
use ideas and information.
Level 5
Pupils show understanding of a range of texts, selecting essential points and
using inference and deduction where appropriate. In their responses, they
identify key features, themes and characters and select sentences, phrases
and relevant information to support their views. They retrieve and collate
information from a range of sources.
Writing 6
Level 1
Pupils' writing communicates meaning through simple words and phrases. In
their reading or their writing, pupils begin to show awareness of how full stops
are used. Letters are usually clearly shaped and correctly orientated.
Level 2
Pupils' writing communicates meaning in both narrative and non-narrative
forms, using appropriate and interesting vocabulary, and showing some
awareness of the reader. Ideas are developed in a sequence of sentences,
sometimes demarcated by capital letters and full stops. Simple, monosyllabic
words are usually spelt correctly, and where there are inaccuracies the
alternative is phonetically plausible. In handwriting, letters are accurately
formed and consistent in size.
Level 3
Pupils' writing is often organised, imaginative and clear. The main features of
different forms of writing are used appropriately, beginning to be adapted to
different readers. Sequences of sentences extend ideas logically and words
are chosen for variety and interest. The basic grammatical structure of
sentences is usually correct. Spelling is usually accurate, including that of
common, polysyllabic words. Punctuation to mark sentences - full stops,
capital letters and question marks - is used accurately. Handwriting is joined
and legible.
Level 4
Pupils' writing in a range of forms is lively and thoughtful. Ideas are often
sustained and developed in interesting ways and organised appropriately for
the purpose of the reader. Vocabulary choices are often adventurous and
words are used for effect. Pupils are beginning to use grammatically complex
sentences, extending meaning. Spelling, including that of polysyllabic words
that conform to regular patterns, is generally accurate. Full stops, capital
letters and question marks are used correctly, and pupils are beginning to use
punctuation within the sentence. Handwriting style is fluent, joined and
Level 5
Pupils' writing is varied and interesting, conveying meaning clearly in a range
of forms for different readers, using a more formal style where appropriate.
Vocabulary choices are imaginative and words are used precisely. Simple
and complex sentences are organised into paragraphs. Words with complex
regular patterns are usually spelt correctly. A range of punctuation, including
commas, apostrophes and inverted commas, is usually used accurately.
Handwriting is joined, clear and fluent and, where appropriate, is adapted to a
range of tasks.
Mathematics: Number and algebra 7
Level 1
Pupils count, order, add and subtract numbers when solving problems
involving up to 10 objects. They read and write the numbers involved.
Level 2
Pupils count sets of objects reliably, and use mental recall of addition and
subtraction facts to 10. They begin to understand the place value of each digit
in a number and use this to order numbers up to 100. They choose the
appropriate operation when solving addition and subtraction problems. They
use the knowledge that subtraction is the inverse of addition. They use
mental calculation strategies to solve number problems involving money and
measures. They recognise sequences of numbers, including odd and even
Level 3
Pupils show understanding of place value in numbers up to 1000 and use this
to make approximations. They begin to use decimal notation and to recognise
negative numbers, in contexts such as money and temperature. Pupils use
mental recall of addition and subtraction facts to 20 in solving problems
involving larger numbers. They add and subtract numbers with two digits
mentally and numbers with three digits using written methods. They use
mental recall of the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 multiplication tables and derive the
associated division facts. They solve whole-number problems involving
multiplication or division, including those that give rise to remainders. They
use simple fractions that are several parts of a whole and recognise when two
simple fractions are equivalent.
Level 4
Pupils use their understanding of place value to multiply and divide whole
numbers by 10 or 100. In solving number problems, pupils use a range of
mental methods of computation with the four operations, including mental
recall of multiplication facts up to 10 x 10 and quick derivation of
corresponding division facts. They use efficient written methods of addition
and subtraction and of short multiplication and division. They add and
subtract decimals to two places and order decimals to three places. In solving
problems with or without a calculator, pupils check the reasonableness of
their results by reference to their knowledge of the context or to the size of
the numbers. They recognise approximate proportions of a whole and use
simple fractions and percentages to describe these. Pupils recognise and
describe number patterns, and relationships including multiple, factor and
square. They begin to use simple formulae expressed in words. Pupils use
and interpret coordinates in the first quadrant.
Level 5
Pupils use their understanding of place value to multiply and divide whole
numbers and decimals by 10, 100 and 1000. They order, add and subtract
negative numbers in context. They use all four operations with decimals to
two places. They reduce a fraction to its simplest form by cancelling common
factors and solve simple problems involving ratio and direct proportion. They
calculate fractional or percentage parts of quantities and measurements,
using a calculator where appropriate. Pupils understand and use an
appropriate non-calculator method for solving problems that involve
multiplying and dividing any three-digit number by any two-digit number. They
check their solutions by applying inverse operations or estimating using
approximations. They construct, express in symbolic form, and use simple
formulae involving one or two operations. They use brackets appropriately.
Pupils use and interpret coordinates in all four quadrants.
Mathematics: Shape, space and measures 8
Level 1
When working with 2D and 3D shapes, pupils use everyday language to
describe properties and positions. They measure and order objects using
direct comparison, and order events.
Level 2
Pupils use mathematical names for common 3D and 2D shapes and describe
their properties, including numbers of sides and corners. They distinguish
between straight and turning movements, understand angle as a
measurement of turn, and recognise right angles in turns. They begin to use
everyday non-standard and standard units to measure length and mass.
Level 3
Pupils classify 3D and 2D shapes in various ways using mathematical
properties such as reflective symmetry for 2D shapes. They use non-standard
units, standard metric units of length, capacity and mass, and standard units
of time, in a range of contexts.
Level 4
Pupils make 3D mathematical models by linking given faces or edges, draw
common 2D shapes in different orientations on grids. They reflect simple
shapes in a mirror line. They choose and use appropriate units and
instruments, interpreting, with appropriate accuracy, numbers on a range of
measuring instruments. They find perimeters of simple shapes and find areas
by counting squares.
Level 5
When constructing models and when drawing or using shapes, pupils
measure and draw angles to the nearest degree, and use language
associated with angle. Pupils know the angle sum of a triangle and that of
angles at a point. They identify all the symmetries of 2D shapes. They know
the rough metric equivalents of imperial units still in daily use and convert one
metric unit to another. They make sensible estimates of a range of measures
in relation to everyday situations. Pupils understand and use the formula for
the area of a rectangle.
Mathematics: Handling data 9
Level 1
Pupils sort objects and classify them, demonstrating the criterion they have
Level 2
Pupils sort objects and classify them using more than one criterion. When
they have gathered information, pupils record results in simple lists, tables
and block graphs, in order to communicate their findings.
Level 3
Pupils extract and interpret information presented in simple tables and lists.
They construct bar charts and pictograms, where the symbol represents a
group of units, to communicate information they have gathered, and they
interpret information presented to them in these forms.
Level 4
Pupils collect discrete data and record them using a frequency table. They
understand and use the mode and range to describe sets of data. They group
data, where appropriate, in equal class intervals, represent collected data in
frequency diagrams and interpret such diagrams. They construct and
interpret simple line graphs.
Level 5
Pupils understand and use the mean of discrete data. They compare two
simple distributions, using the range and one of the mode, median or mean.
They interpret graphs and diagrams, including pie charts, and draw
conclusions. They understand and use the probability scale from 0 to 1.
Pupils find and justify probabilities, and approximations to these, by selecting
and using methods based on equally likely outcomes and experimental
evidence, as appropriate. They understand that different outcomes may result
from repeating an experiment.
Key stage 2: Percentage of pupils achieving level four or above, and level three or
above, in reading, writing and mathematics
Reading: Level 3 or above
Writing: Level 3 or above
Mathematics: Level 3 or above
Reading: Level 4 or above
Writing: Level 4 or above
Mathematics: Level 4 or above
Source: Department for Education, National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2
Reading: For all years based on reading tests
Writing: For years up to 2011, based on writing tests. For 2012 onwards based on writing teacher
assessments. Figures for 2011 and earlier for writing are not comparable to those for 2012 onwards.
Mathematics: For all years based on mathematics tests
Key stage 2 assessments are mandatory for state-funded schools; a proportion of independent
schools also take part in the assessments see for example p 14 of:
Qualityandmethodology.pdf (2014)
The source data can be found at the following links:
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