Suffolk: Maths challenge launched after disappointing league table performance

THOUSANDS of schoolchildren throughout Suffolk will have the opportunity to improve their maths, thanks to an innovative project organised by The Evening Star and Suffolk County Council.

Every primary school and middle school in the county will be invited to take part in The Maths Challenge – a six-week exercise in which youngsters will tackle a variety of stimulating and fun arithmetic tasks, both in the classroom and at home with parents.

The launch come as primary school league tables are published today, demonstrating that 11-year-olds in Suffolk are underperforming in arithmetic.

The tables place Suffolk at joint 133 out of all 151 local education authorities (LEAs) in the country – just eight places from the bottom.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as the results show a slight rise on last year’s results and Graham Newman, education chief at Suffolk County Council, believes we will see further rises in coming years as a result of the demise of middle schools.

In Suffolk, 69% of Year 6 pupils gained a level four or above in their Key Stage 2 tests for English and maths this summer, a rise of one per cent on the previous set of results but five per cent below the national average.

Pupils performed better in English, with 78% gaining a Level 4, than in maths, where only 76% reached the nationally-recognised level.

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The county is nestled alongside Rotherham, Kingston-upon-Hull and the Medway Towns in the table.

Neighbours Norfolk are only five places from the bottom, with only 68% reaching the set level while Essex appears half way down the table and is in line with the national average with 74%.

However, when you remove middle schools from the equation, the results are considerably better with 74% of primary school pupils gaining level fours in both exams.

Pupils at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, achieved a clean sweep in their end-of-year exams with all 30 students gaining a level four or above.

They were 16th in Suffolk last year but the impressive results puts them in the top two in the county.

“This year’s success is a reflection of all the hard work that all our children, parents and staff put in,” said headteacher Maureen Etheridge.

She believes strong links with the wider church community helps the pupils excel in class and said: “I think that one of the most important dimensions for us as a catholic school is that we’re supported by a very strong faith community.”

She added: “I think all schools are trying their best. I just think that for us (as a church school) it’s an added dimension that binds us together as a family unit.”

In a double-whammy, the school found itself in the list of top performing schools based on average points scored by pupils. They were placed alongside All Saints Church of England Primary School, in Laxfield. The schools scored 31.4 and 31 respectively.

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