More five-year-olds in West Sussex achieved a good level of development in 2017, according to standards set by the Department for Education.
Over the last school year, 70.6 per cent of the pupils reached this standard in the early years assessment, up from 68.3 per cent in 2016. The average rate for England was 69 per cent.
The department benchmark for children with a ‘good level of development’ is to achieve the minimum expected level in five of the seven areas assessed.
These are personal, social and emotional development, physical development, communication and language, mathematics and literacy.
The evaluation is made by the teacher in the final term of reception.
The subject where most pupils met the minimum expected score in West Sussex was physical development. About 88.2 per cent of the pupils hit the mark.
The lowest level of achievement was in literacy – just 71.1 per cent of pupils met the Government’s minimum required mark.
The topic where children improved their rate of success the most was expressive arts and design.
About 87.7 per cent met the level expected, up from 87.3 per cent in 2016.
A total of 9,804 pupils were evaluated in West Sussex in 2017, 4,765 girls and 5,039 boys.
The average mark across all the areas assessed was 33.6, out of a possible 51.
In England, the average mark was 34.5 in 2017.
Girls in West Sussex did better than boys, scoring on average 1.8 more points.
Rosamund McNeil, assistant general secretary at the National Education Union, considered the assessment positive in terms of helping teachers and parents know more about children’s capabilities.
She said: “The purpose of this assessment is to gather information and help teachers plan the next stage for that child. Practitioners are really supportive of it and they are very worried because they feel the Government does not like it because it is not just limited to numeracy and literacy.”
Commenting on the better performance by girls, she added: “Gender is one of the factors, but not critical at this stage. You also have to take into account that 20 per cent of the kids may have some additional need and it really matters which month in the year children were born.
“Every child develops at a different pace from the age of three to 18, and that is something that everybody has to understand.”