More Staffordshire and South Cheshire pupils making the grade in 'core' subjects
HUNDREDS more pupils across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire are mastering the basics in reading and writing by the time they reach the age of seven.
But the improvements have not been enough to lift Stoke-on-Trent off the bottom of the league tables. The city has yet again scored the lowest marks in English, maths and science out of 152 councils in England.
Teachers' leaders today claimed schools were doing everything they could to give Potteries pupils quality learning experiences.
They linked the problems to many youngsters starting school with very low literacy levels, leaving children with a mountain to climb to catch up with their peers.
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The latest results show 2,323 of the 2,941 Stoke-on-Trent pupils eligible for key stage one assessments achieved the standard expected for their age in reading. This was a two per cent increase on last year.
The proportion of infants reaching 'level two' or above in writing and maths also improved by one per cent.
In Staffordshire, seven-year-olds have performed so well that the county has clinched a place in the top 25 in England.
Eighty-nine per cent of its 8,892 pupils reached the national standard in reading – up two per cent. There was also a two per cent rise in the number of infants grasping the basics in writing and a one per cent increase in maths.
Councillor Liz Staples, below, Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for education and skills, described the results as "fantastic" and said they showed the county's children were getting "the best possible start in life".
She added: "I want to thank all of our schools and pupils for their hard work."
Schools across Newcastle borough have seen a three per cent improvement in children's writing abilities.
And pupils in the Moorlands and Stafford borough are among the highest overall performers, coming joint top for reading.
One of the longstanding issues has been how to get boys hooked on books. Teachers have tried everything from focusing on action adventure stories through to running reading award schemes.
In Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire East schools, boys have carved out the lion's share of the reading improvements in 2012.
Yet a significant number of boys are still struggling with spelling and writing sentences.
The city has failed to move up the league tables as its improvements have been matched by schools elsewhere.
Nationally, reading and writing results have shot up by two per cent and maths has increased by one per cent.
Cheshire East schools – who are already among the highest-performing – have improved by the same margin.
Derek Gray, Stoke-on-Trent secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "There is a great deal of effort going into key stage one in our schools.
"The fact the results have gone up nationally, as well as locally, is brilliant."
Ivan Hickman, city secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: "It's about putting in resources. We need something like the London Challenge, which had a very positive impact."