Test results for schoolchildren in West Sussex have improved so much that leaders are certain they will match the national average next year.
While results over the past few years have fallen short of what was expected, the impressive rate of improvement year-on-year has been hailed as ‘extremely encouraging’.
In the two years since the new Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests were brought in, children have seen their countywide results improve by 13 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.
This year, 62 per cent of seven year olds met the expected standard in reading writing and maths, compared to the national average of 65 per cent, while the results for 11 year olds were 61.3 per cent, compared to 64 per cent nationally.
Richard Burrett, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “I would like to think this is only the beginning.”
Speaking at a meeting of the full council, in Chichester on Friday, Mr Burrett told members: “I think these are excellent results by anyone’s standards.
“The fact that we’ve managed to achieve this is testament to all the hard work that all our staff and students have put in, but particularly to the way in which we have focussed on Key Stage 2 over the last few years.”
He added: “We’ve had two big strides over the last couple of years to the point where we’re only a short distance behind the national average.
“I would hope that we might be able to match the national standard next year and then go on to achieve it in the future.
“Certainly if we continue at the rate we’re going, that would be the case.”
Acknowledging that there was still work to be done, Mr Burrett insisted that no one was being complacent.
He added: “Obviously it becomes more difficult to sustain that improvement – and continuous improvement – over a long period of time.
“But I think the important thing is that we need to maintain momentum on this. We’re not taking our feet off the pedal because we’re not there yet.”
Mr Burrett also said there were indications that the results were having a positive effect on social mobility.
Last year, Crawley children from poorer families were reported as having less chance of getting ahead in life than any in the south east.
Now though, the town’s disadvantaged pupils are performing better than their disadvantaged peers nationally.
It was, Mr Burrett said, ‘something we can really celebrate’.