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Inner-city schools are fighting back.

The back-to-basics approach to primary education is paying dividends in inner-city schools in the Midlands, according to performance tables published today. Despite national trends stagnating, tables of this summer's Key Stage Two tests in English, maths and science show huge improvements at schools in Birmingham and Sandwell as well in other local boroughs.

The tables show a rise in standards of two points taking the national average score in the three core subjects to 233 out of a possible maximum of 300.

However, Birmingham has seen a rise of 4.7 points to 222.7 while Sandwell lifts itself out of the bottom ten education authorities in the country with an aggregate increase of 10.4 points to 212.9 points.

Six of the Midland's 15 education authorities improved on last year with six scoring above the national average.

Topping the regional list of authorities was Solihull, which was 15.8 points above the national average while the top Midland school was St Nicholas Roman Catholic Primary School in Sutton Coldfield which scored a ``perfect'' score of 300.

The introduction of numeracy and literacy strategies by the Government in recent years has lead to the improvement in basic skills in primary schools.

When the tests for 11 year-olds first started in 1997 inner-city schools in the Midlands were slammed for their poor performances, but in the last two years have seen major gains.

Professor Tim Brighouse, Birmingham's chief education officer, said the results of inner city schools this year is even more impressive considering the staffing crisis that has plagued schools across the country. ``Five years ago less than half the eleven year-olds in the city were reaching expected levels in maths and English, now less than a third are not reaching these levels,'' he said. ``We are committed to raising standards still further and have set very challenging targets for all key stages.

``With the skill and energy of our teachers and the continued commitment of the city council to prioritising education, we are confident these can be met.''

Sandwell Council has made the region's most impressive jump in standards.

In the bottom five education authorities since the tables began it has risen from 146 out of 150 in 2000 to 137th this year.

Coun Ian Jones (Lab Tipton Green), Sandwell Council's cabinet member for education and life long learning, said he was delighted by the improvements made across the board in nearly every school in the borough.

``Sandwell is closing the gap between the performance of its primary children and those in the rest of the country,'' he said.

Reports, Pages 2, 3 & 26 Tables, Pages 23-26 Comment, Page 10

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Head of St Nicholas Catholic primary school, Sutton Coldfield, Margaret McConnell in the school playground
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 5, 2001
Words:459
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