A National Association of Head Teachers’ spokesman said it was “one of those situations where money is the solution and schools need the government’s help”.
The tables also showed disadvantaged pupils still perform far worse than all other pupils in England, with around half passing the tests, compared to nearly two-thirds of non-disadvantaged.
The gap between the two groups of pupils is now as wide as it was in 2012 at about 20 percentage points.
However, there does appear to be a small catch-up (one percentage point) in poorer pupils’ attainment on 2016 when the tougher tests were introduced and results for all pupils dipped significantly.
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “This data is a useful indication of school performance but it is not the whole story. One thing it does do, though, is confirm what NAHT has been saying for a long time about social mobility.
“Raising the Key Stage 2 standard (Sats test) was not going to help close the gap. The issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve.”
But Schools Minister Nick Gibb hailed the achievements of pupils and teachers, saying they had responded well to the more rigorous curriculum.
This set of pupils was the first to benefit from the government’s new approach to phonics, he said.
“Pupils are now leaving primary school better prepared for the rigours of secondary school and for future success in their education,” Mr Gibb added.
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Overall, pupils have scored better in their Sats results than last year, which was the first year of the new tests.
The DfE said this was partly because of “increased familiarity” with the new tests.
There was a nine percentage point increase in the proportion of black pupils passing the tests, to 60% – just one percentage point behind the national average and white pupils.
The top five local authorities were all London boroughs, with Richmond upon Thames at the top, Kensington and Chelsea coming second and Bromley third.
The inner city boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Hackney have claimed the fourth and fifth spots.
In 1999, Hackney, which had been one of the worst performing boroughs, became the first local education authority to be taken out of council control.
In this year’s tests across England, local authority schools slightly outperformed academies and free schools, with 62% of their schools reaching the expected standard compared with 61% of academies and free schools.
In all, 511 schools – 4% of the total – have fallen beneath the government’s expectations or “floor standard”, where fewer than 65% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics and the school did not achieve sufficient progress scores in all three subjects.
This is an improvement on last year, where 665 – 5% – primaries were found wanting.
Controversial tests taken by England’s seven-year-olds will be scrapped by 2023, but nine-year-olds will have to sit times table tests under new plans.
Announcing the end to compulsory SATs, the government said children would instead have a “baseline” check in reception year, aged four or five.
This would allow their progress to be tracked and would “free up” teachers, the education secretary said.
But times table tests for year four pupils will be introduced in 2019/20.
The Key Stage 1 tests in reading, writing, maths and science – used to monitor schools’ progress – have been compulsory for seven-year-olds in England with around 500,000 children taking them each year.
But they have proved controversial, with many teachers and parents opposed to putting young pupils through the tests.
Those who support the tests argue that they ensure schools are helping children grasp the basics and identify children who are struggling.
The government announced on Thursday that they would no longer be compulsory from 2023.
Instead there would be a baseline assessment of children’s abilities in their reception year, at the start of their schooling, which would then be used to measure their progress throughout the school. Children will still sit SATs at age 11.
Schools would also not be required to submit assessments of pupils’ reading and maths to the government aged 11 – because they were already being tested in year 6.
This would help “free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way,” Ms Greening said.
But times table tests – initially floated last year for pupils aged 11 – would be sat two years earlier in year four, from 2019/20 to help children’s “fluency in mathematics”.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the tests would be “a waste of valuable time, energy and money and should not be introduced”.
“The reception baseline assessment and multiplication tables check will be of no educational benefit to children and break a promise not to increase the assessment burden on primary schools.”
But Nick Brook of the school leaders’ union NAHT said the baseline assessments at reception were “absolutely the right thing to do” and, if designed properly, would provide useful information for schools while avoiding “unnecessary burdens on teachers or anxiety for young children”.
Two hundred years ago, it was still possible for one person to be a leader in several different fields of inquiry. Today that is no longer the case. So is there a role in today’s world for the polymath – someone who knows a lot about a lot of things?
“The winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, which British X-Ray crystallographer was instrumental in…”
“Man produces evil as a bee produces honey. These are the words of which Nobel laureate, born in Cornwall in 1911, his novels include Pincher Martin, the Inheritors and Rites of…”
Obviously you don’t need to hear the rest of these questions to know the answers. At least, not if you’re Eric Monkman or Bobby Seagull. Seagull’s fist-pumping and natty dressing, and Monkman’s furrowed brow, flashing teeth, contorted facial expressions and vocal delivery – like a fog horn with a hangover – made these two young men the stars of the last University Challenge competition.
“Wolfson, Monkman” and “Emmanuel, Seagull” became familiar phrases, Monkmania became a hashtag. They squared off as opposing captains in the semi-finals (though in the final itself, the team from Balliol College, Oxford triumphed).
At Cambridge, Monkman and Seagull forged a most unlikely friendship. The Canadian, Eric Monkman, is the middle-class son of two doctors. Bobby Seagull’s family originate in Kerala, India, and he was raised in a working-class part of east London, before gaining a scholarship to Britain’s most elite private school, Eton. “If I got married tomorrow, I’d ask Eric to be my best man,” says Seagull.
Find out more
Listen to Monkman and Seagull’s Polymathic Adventure on BBC Radio 4 at 20:30 on Monday 21 August
They’re still recognised in the street. “People often ask me, do you intimidate people with your knowledge,” says Monkman. “But the opposite is the case. I have wide knowledge but no deep expertise. I am intimidated by experts.” Seagull, like Monkman, feels an intense pressure to specialise. They regard themselves as Jacks-of-all-Trades, without being master of one. “When I was young what I really wanted to do was know a lot about a lot,” says Monkman. “Now I feel that if I want to make a novel contribution to society I need to know a great deal about one tiny thing.”
The belief that researchers need to specialise goes back at least two centuries. From the beginning of the 19th Century, research has primarily been the preserve of universities. Ever since, says Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, researchers have labels attached to them. “They’re professor of this or that, and you get a much more self-conscious sense of the institutional divides between domains of knowledge.”
Before then, there were some polymaths who made original contributions in multiple areas. The word polymath stems from the Greek, polus, meaning “much” or “many” and mathe, meaning “learning”. The first use of the word has been traced to the 17th Century. From the Renaissance, people such as Leonardo da Vinci – painter, sculptor, architect, physicist, anatomist, philosopher, geologist and biologist – gave rise to a synonym of polymath, the “Renaissance man”.
One polymath/Renaissance Man was Thomas Young (1773-1829), the subject of a biography by Andrew Robinson entitled The Last Man Who Knew Everything. Young was a physician and physicist, whose achievements were breathtaking. He established the wave theory of light, undertook pioneering work in optics and studied 400 languages, helped decode the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone – and much, much more. And to confound any notion that he was a sort of 19th Century uber-geek, he was also an accomplished dancer and gymnast.
These days, any ambition to contribute to many disciplines is probably unrealistic. It takes years of immersion just to reach the boundary of our current knowledge in any one area. Today’s polymaths might share the same personal qualities as Thomas Young – an abundance of grey matter, of course, combined with relentless curiosity and a tendency to workaholicism (Young barely slept) – but they are repositories of scholarship rather than contributors to it.
Monkman and Seagull’s selected polymaths
Stephen Leacock (1869-1944): Anglo-Canadian political scientist and economist famous in Canada today for his collections of humorous essays and stories. The subjects of his comedy include academia, mathematics, life in rural Canada and the “leisure classes” described by his mentor Thorstein Veblen. When browsing a bookshelf in Canada, I always hope to find an early Stephen Leacock collection.
Joseph Needham (1900-1995): British biochemist, sinologist and historian. As a biochemist, Needham studied chemical embryology. As a sinologist, he was one of the first Westerners to realise the depth of Chinese accomplishments in science. This led him to pose the “Needham Question”, asking why modern science arose in Europe but not in China. I find this an intriguing mystery.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): This German Benedictine abbess was a theologian, writer, poet, composer, artist, linguist, medical researcher and botanist. She is regarded as the founder of scientific natural history in Germany and is one of the first historically identifiable composers in Western music. I was taught about her during my years at St Bonaventure’s Catholic secondary school.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): The Calcutta-born “Bard of Bengal” was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913). India chose one of his musical compositions for its national anthem, while Bangladesh chose one of his poems. He was also a painter, and founded the renowned Visva-Bharati University. My father, who studied Bengali literature at university, introduced me to Tagore at a young age.
So is there still a useful role for today’s clever-clog – besides ringer in the pub quiz team?
Stefan Collini says that in many Western societies “there is a populist hostility to expertise in public life”. It may be that polymaths, with their broader gaze, have an important role in communicating specialist fields. What’s more, with ever narrowing specialism there is a need for generalists to synthesise information, to make connections between the discipline silos.
A contemporary polymath, the American academic Jared Diamond, drew on his interest in geography, evolution, anthropology, history and botany, to develop a theory explaining how it was that Eurasian and North African civilisations came to conquer others. It was turned into a best-selling book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
Diamond is one of Stephen Fry’s favourite polymaths. Fry – actor, comedian, writer and general egghead – is himself on the polymathic spectrum. He says he shares a personality trait with other polymaths – inquisitiveness. “If you know a lot, it’s because you’re curious,” he says. “You have this impulse to know and, therefore, things stick to you. You put on, as it were, epistemological weight. I have always been fantastically greedy to know things.”
Monkman and Seagull love knowing a lot of stuff. You might find them reading about the French Revolution one day, and about genetics or astronomy the next. Despite their anxiety about spreading themselves too thin, they share Fry’s appetite to know. It’s an overwhelming craving, likely to frustrate any countervailing drive to master one topic.
By the way. The answer to those two questions. Dorothy Hodgkin was the crystallographer, and William Golding the novelist. But you knew that anyway.
The belief that there is a link between talent and left-handedness has a long history. Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed. So were Mark Twain, Mozart, Marie Curie, Nicola Tesla and Aristotle. Its no different today former US president Barack Obama is a left-hander, as is business leader Bill Gates and footballer Lionel Messi.
Also, the corpus callosum the bundle of nerve cells connecting the two brain hemispheres tends to be larger in left-handers. This suggests that some left-handers have an enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres and hence superior information processing. Why that is, however, is unclear. One theory argues that living in a world designed for right-handers could be forcing left-handers to use both hands thereby increasing connectivity. This opens up the possibility that we could all achieve enhanced connectivity by training ourselves to use both hands.
These peculiarities may be the reason why left-handers seem to have an edge in several professions and arts. For example, they are over-represented among musicians, creative artists, architects and chess players. Needless to say, efficient information processing and superior spatial skills are essential in all these activities.
Handedness and mathematics
But what about the link between left-handedness and mathematical skill? Unsurprisingly, the role played by handedness in mathematics has long been a matter of interest. More than 30 years ago, a seminal study claimed left-handedness to be a predictor of mathematical precociousness. The study found that the rate of left-handedness among students talented in mathematics was much greater than among the general population.
However, the idea that left-handedness is a predictor of superior intellectual ability has been challenged recently. Several scholars have claimed that left-handedness is not related to any advantage in cognitive skills, and may even exert detrimental effects on general cognitive function and, hence, academic achievement.
For example, one study discovered that left-handed children slightly under-performed in a series of developmental measures. Also, a recent review reported that left-handers appear to be slightly over-represented among people with intellectual disabilities. Another large study found that left-handers performed more poorly in mathematical ability in a sample of children aged five to 14.
Carefully designed experiment
Interestingly, these past studies, just like many others, differed from each other in how handedness was measured and how participants were categorised some of them simply asked people what their hand preference was in general. And, most importantly, they had different approaches to measuring mathematical ability ranging from simple arithmetic to complex problem solving. These discrepancies in the experimental design may be the cause of the mixed observed results.
To get more reliable results, we decided to carry out a whole series of experiments including more than 2,300 students (in primary school and high school). These experiments varied in terms of type and difficulty of mathematical tasks.
To assure comparability, we used the same questionnaire the Edinburgh Inventory to assess handedness in all the experiments. This questionnaire asks people which hand they prefer for writing, drawing, throwing, brushing and other things. It assesses to what extent someone prefers their right or left its a scale rather than a categorical left versus right assessment. This specific feature allowed us to build more reliable and powerful statistical models.
With summer right around the corner, most kids are looking forward to taking a break from homework and spending long days at the pool. Two Texas brothers, however, are exceptions to the rule their love of learning already has them looking forward to next school year and hitting the books once again.
When you see Carson Huey-You and his younger brother, Cannan, on the playground they look like ordinary siblings, doing ordinary activities. But this playful duo is anything but ordinary.
“I don’t really think I’m a genius at all,” Carson says.
Most of his friends, family and educators would beg to differ. While most kids were starting kindergarten at age 5, Carson had just completed the eighth grade.
I was 10 years old when I graduated high school, he explains.
Four years later, now 14, Carson just became the youngest person to ever graduate from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He majored in physics and picked up minors in mathematics and Chinese.
It’s a good language to learn. So many people speak it. You have those big businesses in China, so I started taking it and high school and eventually when I started going here I took it, he said.
While not even old enough to drive or legally vote, Carson is able to solve math problems that would give most people nightmares. He says he enjoys learning how things work and finds physics interesting because it can be considered abstract. In fact, Carson is so fascinated with science that he plans to now pursue a masters degree in quantum mechanics at TCU.
The teen will begin his graduate program in the fall, only this time he wont be completely alone on campus. His younger brother will also attend TCU next year, after just graduating from high school at age 11.
Yes, two academically gifted children in one family.
Cannan will focus his studies on engineering, astronomy and physics because hed like to become an astronaut when he grows up.
“I tell everyone they’re just normal kids but they’re advanced on an academic level,” their mother, Claretta Kimp, explains.
Kimp is a single mother with a background in education and business who mostly homeschooled her boys. She insists it was extremely important that she raise her children to not believe they were better than anyone else, just because of their intellect.
I must say that every child is special, she says. Im humbled. I love my boys more than life and I’m so proud of them. They are such great kids and it’s great to be their mom!
Casey Stegall joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2007 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Dallas bureau. He previously served as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.
Whether you’re in middle school, high school, university, or anything in between, it has never been a better time to be a student. Schools around the globe are embracing clever and practical new technologies and ideas in their buildings, all geared towards making life easier for students and teachers alike. It’s not all just for show, either – a 2012 study by the Miami-Dade Public School Board showed that modern school facilities actually contribute to the well-being and academic performance of students, and that teachers working in a more technologically-advanced environment are more likely to keep their jobs.
Here at Bored Panda, we think these ingenious upgrades deserve some recognition, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most creative and cool things people have installed at their schools.
Vote for the ones you’d most like to bring to your principal’s desk, and add photos of your own school’s smart creations below!