Academic year 2022/23

Key stage 2 attainment: National headlines

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  1. Corrected the 2016 reading, writing and maths (combined) figure from 61% of pupils met expected standard to 53%.

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Introduction

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

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 2023 is compared to 2022 and previous years where possible. There were no assessments in 2020 and 2021.


Headline facts and figures - 2022/23

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Attainment in reading, writing and maths (combined)

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. Further information can be found in ‘About these Statistics’. 

In 2023, 59% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths, unchanged from 2022. This is below 2019 attainment, where 65% of pupils met the standard.  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.

Last 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. 

Data is not available for 2020 and 2021 as assessments were cancelled in these years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attainment in individual subjects

In reading, 73% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2023, down from 75% in 2022. This figure has fluctuated between 72% and 75% since 2017. 

In writing teacher assessment, 71% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2023, up from 69% in 2022. Before the pandemic, in both 2018 and 2019, this figure was 78%.  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, 73% of pupils reached the expected standard, up from 71% in 2022. Before the pandemic, this figure increased from 70% to 79% between 2016 and 2019. 

Attainment amongst reading, writing and maths was lowest in writing, as in 2022. Before the pandemic, with the exception of 2018 where it was the same as maths, attainment amongst these three subjects was lowest in reading. 

In grammar, punctuation and spelling, 72% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2023. This remains the same as 2022, where it was the lowest figure since new assessments were introduced in 2016. 

In science teacher assessment, 80% of pupils reached the expected standard in 2023, up from 79% in 2022. Before the pandemic in 2019, this figure was 83%.  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. 

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. Scaled scores range from 80 to 120. The total number of marks a pupil achieves in each test subject (raw score) is converted into a scaled score to ensure accurate comparisons can be made over time, even if the difficulty of the test itself varies. 

The average scaled scores in reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling tests have remained the same as 2022. 

In reading, the average scaled score is 105, unchanged since 2022. 

In maths, the average scaled score is 104, unchanged since 2022. 

In grammar, punctuation and spelling, the average scaled score is 105, unchanged since 2022. 

The average scaled score is the mean scaled score of all pupils awarded a scaled score. It only includes pupils who took the test and achieved 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). As a consequence, changes in one measure may not be matched by changes in the other measure of the same size and direction.

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 combined.

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 8 July 2023. 

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

  • Reading test: 99.9%
  • Maths test: 99.9%
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling test: 99.9%
  • Writing teacher assessment: 99.2%
  • Science teacher assessment: 99.2%

See the methodology for further detail.

Further information will be available

Further provisional statistics will be published on 12 September 2023 in the 'Key stage 2 attainment (provisional)’ publication. 

Revised figures will be published in the 'Key stage 2 attainment (revised)’ publication in December 2023. 

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 12 September.

School characteristics breakdowns, including school type, phase, cohort size and religious character, will also be published on 12 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 12 September.

Regional, local authority and local authority district level data with further 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

School level data will be published on the Find School and College Performance data website in December.

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Methodology

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

Accredited official statistics

These accredited official statistics have been independently reviewed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). They comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Accredited official statistics are called National Statistics in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Accreditation signifies 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

Our statistical practice is regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

Contact us

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

Primary Attainment Statistics

Email: Primary.ATTAINMENT@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Lilian Williams

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