Skip to main content

Secondary Schools (Tamworth)

Volume 518: debated on Monday 15 November 2010

14. What recent representations he has received on standards of attainment in secondary schools in (a) Tamworth constituency and (b) England. (23532)

No representations have been received on standards of attainment in secondary schools in Tamworth. However, we have received many representations about standards in secondary schools nationally. In 2009, 38.9% of pupils in maintained schools in Tamworth achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C, including English and maths, compared with 50.9% in England as a whole.

I am grateful for that answer. Is my hon. Friend aware that after 13 years of a Labour Government, children are still going to secondary school in Tamworth at the age of 11 with a reading age of eight or lower, which puts them at a disadvantage? What proposals do the Government have to enhance vertical integration between primary schools and secondary schools so that children have the best chance of high attainment when they go into those secondary schools, and do not have to play catch-up?

It is important for primary and secondary schools to work closely together, particularly at that transition point. Getting the fundamentals right is crucial to a child’s success in secondary education and throughout their adult life. The Government are committed to getting all children reading and writing to a high standard, which is why we are promoting the use of systematic synthetic phonics in primary schools and introducing a short reading test for six-year-olds, so that we can identify those who need extra help. We will say more about the age six reading test shortly.

If the Minister is committed to increasing attainment, does he agree that children in secondary schools learn from each other, as well as from their teachers? If so, why will children in places such as Wokingham receive around twice as much pupil premium as children in places such as Slough?

Of course, we are still consulting on how the pupil premium will be allocated, but a problem with the current system is that 50% of funding that is allocated on the basis of need does not reach the school. The advantage of the proposed pupil premium—it will be £2.5 billion a year by the final year of the spending review period—is that every penny will reach the schools attended by those pupils.