HAMPSHIRE schoolchildren have been praised after "rising to the challenge" created by tougher tests and out-performing pupils in other parts of the country.

Education chiefs are celebrating new figures, published today, which show that a high percentage of youngsters across the county have met new targets relating to reading, writing and maths.

The Key Stage 2 tests, more commonly known as SATS, are taken by every child at the end of their primary school education


Youngsters sitting the tests in 2016 were the first to be taught under what the Department for Education (DfE) describes as a "new, more challenging" curriculum.

High performing schools in Southampton include Beechwood Primary, rated outstanding by Ofsted, where 100-per-cent of pupils reached the expected standard in both reading and maths.

Some 96-per-cent of children at Harefield Primary, also judged to be outstanding by inspectors, attained the expected standard in maths.

Other schools with cause for celebration include Sinclair Primary, where head teacher Gerida Montague has seen 93-per-cent of pupils meet the required standard in reading.

Cllr Darren Paffey, the city council's Cabinet member for education and skills, said: “This is the first year that schools have had to work towards a new national curriculum and accountability framework.

"Provisional results show that Southampton's schools have risen to this significant challenge, with an average of 53-per-cent of pupils achieving the expected standards in reading, writing and maths.

"This is in line with the national picture and four-per-cent better than our statistical neighbours. 

“I'd like to say 'well done' to all pupils on their achievements as well as thanking Southampton’s teachers for their ongoing commitment to providing the best possible standard of education in what has been a challenging year.

"The city council will continue to work with headteachers to build upon this year’s results.”

Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for education, added: "I’m delighted to see that Hampshire schools have performed well above the provisional national average.

“Based on the provisional data we've been analysing we can be very proud of our performance when measured against the other local authority areas that compare most closely with us statistically. 

“This is testament to the hard work of pupils and teachers and great leadership from headteachers.

"Hampshire’s schools can be very proud. It’s an excellent set of results when we compare Hampshire pupils’ performance with the provisional national average."

Cllr Edgar acknowledged that the tougher tests had resulted in some pupils in Hampshire and elsewhere failing to achieve the required standard.

But he added: “Schools are making a transition to a more rigorous system and this means that while children are still performing at the same high level this is not always reflected by the results.

"I would urge parents and pupils to remember that the drop in numbers meeting the national standard does not reflect a drop in performance but a raising of the bar."

Last year Thornhill Primary School, rated good by Ofsted, secured top marks in across the board, with a 100-per-cent score in all categories. 

It was a vast improvement on the situation that existed seven years ago, when Thornhill was languishing among the worst performing schools in the city. 

Three years ago it was named the most improved in the country and last year every one of its Year 6 pupils hit the government target in reading, writing and maths.

Last night head teacher Kerry Stamp said she was delighted with this year's results.

They show that 94-per-cent of pupils reached the required standard in reading, with 88-per-cent achieving the same result in maths. 

Kerry said: "The tests were more demanding than in previous years, with more expected of pupils in the light of changes to the curriculum.

"We are exceptionally proud of the efforts and achievements by our Year 6 pupils.

"Their brilliant results demonstrated the super progress they had made throughout their time through their primary school journey.

"We pride ourselves on the fact that we aim for all pupils when leave us are well prepared for the next stage of education and have the skills to ensure life long learning continues."

Two other primary schools in the city - Mansbridge and Kanes Hill - saw 88-per-cent of pupils attain the required standard in maths.

Southampton's less successful schools include St John's Primary, where just 36-per-cent of pupils reached the expected standard in reading. 

Across the city 17-per-cent of children attained a High Score in reading, slightly better than the figure achieved by schools in similar areas elsewhere.

Southampton also outperformed other towns and cities when it came to achieving a High Score in the grammar, punctuation and spelling test. Southampton's score was 22-per-cent, compared with 21-per-cent elsewhere.

The percentage of Southampton pupils achieving the expected standard in writing was 75-per-cent - two-per-cent above the national average.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "This year's SATs are the first that test the new primary school curriculum in English and maths that we introduced in 2014.

"This new curriculum raises expectations and ensures pupils become more accomplished readers and are fluent in the basics of arithmetic, including times-tables, long division and fractions.

"Many schools have responded well to this more rigorous curriculum, supporting their pupils to be leaving primary school better prepared for the demands of secondary school."

A DfE spokesman added: "This year we have given schools progress scores, which will be reflected in the tables for the first time.

"The greater emphasis on pupil progress in 2016 ensures fairness across all schools, including those that have more challenging intakes.

"This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new system. They are therefore not comparable to test results from previous years which were under an entirely different system of assessment."