On paper, today’s latest Key Stage Two SATs results are somewhat alarming.
That’s because the data shows a stark drop in the number of students achieving expected standards in writing, reading and arithmetic at the end of primary school.
But take stock of the data, and you realise the picture is not as bleak as first imagined.
This is the first time pupils have been tested based on a new, tougher curriculum rolled out in 2014.
As the government puts it, the changes are designed ‘to ensure pupils become more accomplished readers and are fluent in the basics of arithmetic, including timestables, long division and fractions’.
But we also acknowledge there are schools which weren’t prepared enough for the changes – and were unsure as to what pupils would specifically be tested on in their end-of-primary school exams.
Yet for the large part, schools have weathered the storm and many have seen more than half of their students meet the required standards – though Portsmouth fell below the national average.
But there are positives to be had from the government’s new education guidelines.
Raising the bar raises everyone’s game – and a healthy, competitive environment should be encouraged.
Teachers and students work harder, in turn leading to greater achievement and aspiration in school life.
For those schools that have not done so well this time, they should learn and take inspiration from those who brought out the best in pupils, so they too can come out with the best results.
And for a region that’s crying out for more highly-skilled engineers, scientists, mathematicians and manufacturers to drive the Solent’s industry forward, that can only be a good thing.