What do we need to learn from London?

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Is this a new era in primary education? Have we moved into learning without levels? And does that matter?

Reading the BBC Education article 'London Pupils Strongest in Primary School Tests', it was very difficult to distinguish between the psychology of 2015 and that of 2016. The language of the article retained all of the familiar benchmarking terminology:

11-year-olds reached the required standard in reading, writing and maths

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the majority of pupils had performed well, adding that he wanted this success "to be the standard".

These figures show.. etc, etc.

Most teachers will be able to describe how the tests felt more rigorous this year than last a combination of new expectations and a very limited amount of time to prepare year 6 for them. Many would argue that the experience was a brutal one for the pupils which, if anything, increased the pressure to teach to the test.

Setting aside the question of whether this is a new era in which the progress and development of each child will be bespoke, there are clearly lessons to be learned from London. In primary tests, GCSEs and A-levels, the capital seems to be pulling clear of the regions. This may be, as some have argued, the result of significant investment in the city's education. It may be that the speedy pace of academization has brought benefits. Or it could be that a distinctive approach to pedagogy and the expectation of success is having a cumulative impact. Whatever the features are, there is certainly a trend and, if the differentials are not to expand still further, it deserves serious examination.

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