More pupils achieve in core subjects in Wales at 11 and 14

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More 11 and 14-year-old pupils are achieving expected levels in core subjects now than since records began, new figures suggest.

In assessments, 88.6% of pupils aged 11 and 85.9% of 14-year-olds achieved expectations in subjects like English.

But the percentage of seven-year-old boys reaching expected outcomes has fallen slightly in Wales.

This is the first drop since a measure for the Foundation Phase for young learners was introduced in 2012.

The statutory curriculum for all three to seven-year olds in Wales aims to encourage children to be creative and imaginative and learn through play.

Overall, 87% of seven-year-olds achieved the target measure but the rate of increase has slowed to 0.2% since 2015.

The new figures show 91.2% of girls at the age of seven have reached the expected outcome measure, compared to 83% of boys.

The gender gap for this age group has widened slightly compared to the year before.

Conservative shadow secretary for skills, Mohammad Ashgar AM, called the gender attainment gap "frightening" and "unacceptable".

He added: "More research needs to be done to explain why boys are consistently being outperformed by their female classmates."

However, the figures also show the performance gap between girls and boys has narrowed for the older pupils in most subjects.

The findings come in Statistics Wales' annual report into how pupils are doing in classroom assessments in English or Welsh, maths and science.

The biggest improvements since 1999 have been with 14-year-old pupils - apart from a wobble between 2005 and 2007.

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said she was "really encouraged" by the figures, adding: "I want to make sure we build on this and continue to support young people through early years to ensure they have the best start in life."

Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) for 11-year-olds were abolished in Wales in 2004.

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