Children do better than ever in tests

School pupils in the North-East are achieving record exam results, according to league tables published today - but still falling short of the Government's targets.

School pupils in the North-East are achieving record exam results, according to league tables published today - but still falling short of the Government's targets.

In Newcastle, Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead and North Tyneside, achievement in the core subjects of English, maths and sciences at Key Stage 2 were up on 2005.

However, there was a fall in South Tyneside, Sunderland and Cumbria.

Nationally, 76% of 11-year-olds achieved the target of level 4 in maths, up 1% on 2005, 87% achieved the same standard in science, also up 1%, and in English 79% reached the same level, the same percentage as last year.

However, the Government had aimed to get 85% of 11-year-olds up to the required standard in all subjects and the Schools Minister Lord Adonis said more needed to be done.

Newcastle is ranked 122nd of England's 150 education authorities - an improvement on last year's position of 140th - with 76% achieving the required standard in English, 72% in maths and 84% in sciences.

The council's executive member for children and young people, Coun Nick Cott, said: "We are very impressed with the improved performance. This is a tribute to all the hard work going on in schools."

Gateshead was ranked 55th - the same as last year - although its results did improve, with 79% reaching the target level in English, 78% in maths and 89% in sciences.

Council cabinet member for learning and children Catherine Donovan said: "The primary education of all Gateshead pupils is vital to their future and these achievements will prepare them for future successes that will open up many opportunities for them." North Tyneside jumped from 43rd to 35th in the league tables, with 81% hitting the target standard in English, 78% in maths and 89% in sciences.

Cabinet member for children, young people and learning, Coun Norma Redfearn, said: "We are committed to all our children being supported in achieving skills to ensure a positive future."

Sunderland slumped from 86th in the table to 106th and South Tyneside fell from 71st to 82nd. In both areas, there was also a decline in pupils' results.

North-East Chamber of Commerce spokesman Mike Parker said: "This is really positive news as it shows standards rising across most of the North-East.

"There is still a way to go to hit the Government's own targets, but employers will be heartened to see results moving in the right direction. This region has traditionally seen good achievement in younger age groups which has then tailed off in secondary schools, so it is vital this trend is continued as they carry on their schooling career."

Lord Adonis said primary schools had come a long way since 1997, when a third of 11-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard, but more could be achieved.

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Five North schools come out with top marks

Five primary schools in the North-East are named among the country's top 200 in today's tables.

St Agnes's Catholic Primary School in Ryton, Gateshead, achieved a perfect aggregate score of 300 - 100% of its Year Six pupils who left in the summer passed in core subjects of English, maths and science at Level Four.

A total of 20 Year Six pupils sat their exams in the summer and a number also achieved Level 5 passes in science (90%), maths (60%) and English (55%).

Head Lynne Hudson, who has been at the 169-pupil school for five years, said: "I would put it down to very good teaching. We have wonderful teachers here, who make learning fun.

"We encourage a lot of extra-curricular activities and take the children on school trips to give them a wider understanding.

"Our pupils also deserve a lot of credit. We were not surprised this particular class achieved the results they did. Their parents and the wider school community also deserve praise."

The other four North-East schools achieving a perfect aggregate of 300 are in County Durham: St Michael's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School in Esh Laude, Woodlea Primary School in Houghton-le-Spring, and Hunwick Primary School and St Thomas Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary, both in Crook.

High Heskett Church of England School in Carlisle also achieved 300.

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Could do better

There are also a number of North-East primary schools named among the country's bottom 200 in today's lists.

The region's worst, according to the table, is Hudson Road Primary School in central Sunderland, scored 122 - down on last year's 151.

Also in the bottom 200 are three Newcastle primary schools - Hawthorn Primary in Elswick, Atkinson Road Primary in Benwell, and Christ Church C of E Primary in Shieldfield.

Pupils at Bede Community Primary in Old Ford, Gateshead, improved on last year - but the school was still named among the worst 200.

Both West Sleekburn Middle School in Bedlington, Northumberland, and All Saints' C of E Primary in South Shields saw a slump in standards, and are also in the bottom 200.

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Dazzling performance

A Newcastle primary school has been ranked second most improved in the country. The Department for Education and Skills says Beech Hill Primary, Westerhope, achieved the second best national improvement in results for 11-year-olds since 2003.

The school's score for pupils reaching the benchmark level 4 at Key Stage 2 rose 157 points to 288.

And despite a slump in standards at Sunderland, one city school became another of the country's most improved schools.

Some 88% of pupils at Town End Primary reached the set standard in English, 83% in maths and 96% in science. The score of 267 out of 300 made it 13th most improved school.

Others on the list are St John's Primary in Benwell, Chillingham Road Primary in Heaton, both Newcastle, and Lingey House Primary, in Felling, Gateshead.

A host of schools are listed as showing most improvement between Key Stages 1 and 2.

They include St Helens Auckland Primary in Bishop Auckland; Canning Street Primary and Fellside Primary, both Newcastle; Monkton Junior School, Jarrow; Waterville Primary, North Shields; and Kibblesworth Primary, Gateshead.

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