OXFORD is no longer bottom of the pile when it comes to how well the youngest children do at school – but the city is still not doing well enough.
That is the message from Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley as children posted the best results at Key Stage 1 in five years.
Numbers achieving expected levels in reading and writing for Oxfordshire and in Oxford itself were at a five year high, with a five percentage points jump in both reading and writing at Oxford schools.
But while the gap is beginning to narrow, Oxford still lags behind the rest of the county in every area of testing.
Mrs Tilley said: “Attainment in Oxford has also shown at least some improvement.
“However, it remains stubbornly below where we would like it to be and does not compare very well nationally.
“There is a lot of hard work ahead in future years.”
In 2010, Oxford city performed worst out of just over 300 districts in each subject.
Last year, the city remained bottom for writing, but was second to last in reading and fourth from bottom in maths.
Now, with 83 per cent of pupils achieving the expected Level 2 or above in reading, the city lies 12th from bottom, and fifth from bottom in writing, 77 per cent achieving benchmark levels.
The proportion of children achieving the grade in maths and in science remained static at 86 per cent, placing Oxford fifth from bottom in maths and 21st last in science.
Mrs Tilley: “Everybody has realised that something needed to be done.
“There’s been a lot more focus on reading and writing.
“While the results are marginally better and I am very pleased and proud of what teachers have done, we need to keep an eye on it.”
She added an increase in sharing good practice between schools had also had an impact.
More Oxfordshire children achieved Level 2 in all subjects except science, rising two percentage points to 88 per cent in reading, jumping three percentage points in writing to 83 per cent and one percentage point in maths to 91 per cent.
Science results remained at 91 per cent.
Oxfordshire County Council – backed by the Oxford Mail – is currently running a campaign to increase the number of children achieving the higher Level 2b in reading.
The proportion of Oxfordshire children achieving the higher level rose from 74 per cent in 2011 to 78 per cent this year.
Cutteslowe Primary School headteacher Jon Gray said the proportion of children achieving Level 2b at the school had risen by more than 10 percentage points in each subject.
He said: “Lots of schools in the city are starting to concentrate heavily on improvement.
“Although we have seen big rises, we are still not where we want to be yet.”
Not all schools posted improvements.
St Christopher’s Primary School, Cowley, saw results dip slightly – but with 26 out of the 60 children in the year having a high level of special needs, headteacher Alison Holden said that was to be expected.
She said: “Even though they haven’t got the expected levels, the progress they have made is phenomenal.
“Radical changes needed to be made to teaching and learning to make sure results went up in Oxford, and I believe schools have united and put it into practice.
“The results are indicative there is better quality learning and teaching.”