Academic Year 2021/22

Key stage 2 attainment: National headlines

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Introduction

This publication provides the latest headline statistics on attainment in key stage 2 national curriculum assessments in England. 

This is the first publication of key stage 2 attainment statistics since 2019 due to cancellation of 2020 and 2021 assessments during the pandemic.

These statistics cover attainment in the following assessments taken by pupils at the end of year 6, when most are age 11:

  • Reading test
  • Maths test
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling test
  • Writing teacher assessment
  • Science teacher assessment

Attainment in 2022 is compared to 2019 and previous years where possible.


Headline facts and figures - 2021/22

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Attainment in reading, writing and maths

The Department for Education considers meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths to be key for success in secondary school and beyond. Therefore, we report on the proportion of pupils who meet the expected standard in all three of these subjects.

In 2022, 59% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths, down from 65% in 2019. Attainment in all of reading, writing and maths is not directly comparable to some earlier years (2016 and 2017) because of changes to writing teacher assessment frameworks in 2018.

This decrease in attainment in reading, writing and maths is due to decreases in attainment in writing and maths (see ‘Attainment in individual subjects’ section).

Earlier this year, the Department announced a Levelling Up mission for 90% of pupils to meet the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of key stage 2 by 2030. 

Attainment in individual subjects

In reading, 74% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2022, up from 73% in 2019.

In writing teacher assessment, 69% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2022, down from 78% in  2019. Attainment in writing is not directly comparable to some earlier years (2016 and 2017) because of changes to writing teacher assessment frameworks in 2018. 

In maths, 71% of pupils reached the expected standard, down from 79% in 2019.

Among reading, writing and maths, attainment is now highest in reading. This is a reversal from previous years (2016 to 2019) when attainment was lowest in this subject. Of these three subjects, attainment is now lowest in writing.

In grammar, punctuation and spelling, 72% of pupils reached the expected standard, down from 78% in  2019. This is the lowest figure since new assessments were introduced in 2016, when 73% of pupils met the expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling.

In science teacher assessment, 79% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2022, down from 83% in 2019. Attainment in science is not directly comparable to some earlier years (2016, 2017 and 2018) because of changes to science teacher assessment frameworks in 2019. 

Among all subjects, the largest fall in attainment compared to 2019 was in writing (9 percentage points), followed by maths (7 percentage points), grammar, punctuation and spelling (6 percentage points) and science (4 percentage points). 

Average scaled scores in reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling

We use scaled scores to report the results of tests so we can make accurate comparisons of performance over time.

In reading, the average scaled score is 105, up from 104 in 2019. 

In maths, the average scaled score is 104, down from 105 in 2019.

In grammar, punctuation and spelling, the average scaled score is 105, down from  106 in 2019.

The average scaled score is the mean scaled score of all pupils awarded a scaled score. It gives us a measure of the typical performance of a pupil taking the tests. It is affected by the performance of pupils at all points in the range of scores. By contrast, the percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard focuses on the proportion of pupils above or below one particular score (100).

About these statistics

This publication provides headline statistics for attainment in key stage 2 national curriculum assessments for pupils in schools in England. It provides key figures at national level to help schools and parents put results in context.

1. The expected standard

Key stage 2 assessments tell us if pupils have met the expected standard in five subjects by the end of primary school:

  • reading
  • maths
  • writing
  • grammar, punctuation and spelling 
  • science

Tests are used to assess pupils in reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling. Teacher assessment is used to assess pupils in writing and science.

In the tests, pupils meet the expected standard if they achieve a scaled score of 100 or more. The test frameworks provide performance descriptors for the typical characteristics of pupils working at the expected standard.

The teacher assessment frameworks include ‘pupil can’ statements. For example, ‘the pupil can maintain legibility in joined handwriting when writing at speed’. To meet the expected standard, the teacher must judge there to be evidence that the pupil can meet all of the relevant statements.

DfE raised the expected standard in 2016, following the introduction of a new, more challenging national curriculum in 2014.

DfE considers meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths to be key for success in secondary school and beyond. Therefore, we report on the proportion of pupils who meet the expected standard in these three subjects.

Pupils not meeting the expected standard

It is incorrect to say that pupils who have not met the expected standard in reading cannot read, or that those who have not met the expected standard in writing cannot write, and so on.

There is a spectrum of attainment among pupils who do not meet the expected standard, with some coming close and others further away.

A pupil who achieves below the expected standard will still be able to read. For example, they may be able to retrieve simple information from a text but be unable to make developed inferences about what they have read.

We also classify pupils as not meeting the expected standard when it has not been possible to assess their ability, for example, because of absence. This is the case for less than 1% of pupils.

2. Technical information

National curriculum assessment figures published here are based on test and teacher assessment data provided to the Department by the Standards and Testing Agency on 2 July 2022. 

This data contained all available marked key stage 2 tests and teacher assessments:

  • Reading test: 99.8%
  • Maths test: 99.5%
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling test: 99.5%
  • Writing teacher assessment: 96.8%
  • Science teacher assessment: 96.8%

These volumes are lower than in 2019, however we have assessed them to be sufficient to produce national-level headline figures.

See the methodology for further detail.

Further information will be available

Further provisional statistics will be published on 6 September 2022 in the ‘National curriculum assessments: key stage 2 (provisional)’ publication. 

Revised figures will be published in the ‘National curriculum assessments at key stage 2 (revised)’ publication in December 2022. 

1. National level figures broken down by pupil and school characteristics

National level data with pupil characteristics breakdowns, including data broken down by gender, ethnicity, month of birth, free school meal eligibility, special educational needs provision, disadvantage and the disadvantage gap index, will be published in the provisional publication on 6 September.

School characteristics breakdowns, including school type, phase, cohort size and religious character, will also be published on 6 September.

2. Regional, local authority and local authority district level figures

Regional, local authority and local authority district level data - including data broken down by gender - will be published in the provisional publication on 6 September.

Regional, local authority and local authority district level data with pupil characteristics breakdowns will be published in the revised publication in December.

3. Progress measures

Progress measures for different pupil groups and for local authorities will be published in the revised publication in December.

4. School level figures

We will not publish key stage 2 data for academic year 2021/22 in performance tables (also known as Compare School and College Performance).  The Department will, however, still produce the normal suite of key stage 2 accountability measures at school and multi-academy trust level and share these securely with primary schools, academy trusts and local authorities to inform school improvement discussions. 

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

National statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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If you have a specific enquiry about Key stage 2 attainment: National headlines statistics and data:

Primary Attainment Statistics

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Primary.ATTAINMENT@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Lauren Snaathorst
01174 711744

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