PUPILS at Oxfordshire’s primary schools appear to have outshone their peers in the latest SATs exams.

The Department for Education has released provisional statistics for the Key Stage 1 assessments in reading, writing, maths and science, which were taken in May of this year.

Almost 7,740 schoolchildren in the county sat exams, mostly at the age of seven, and the vast majority were hitting targets.

For reading, 77 per cent met the expected standard, above the England average of 75 per cent.

In the writing exam, 70 per reached that standard, above the national figure of 69 per cent.

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The percentage for maths matched the England average of 76, while for science, the percentage was 86 in Oxfordshire compared to 82 nationally.

In all subjects, a higher rate of girls met the standard compared to boys, in line with the national picture.

A breakdown of figures for individual schools has not yet been made public.

The Department for Education has also just released provisional results of the phonics screening check, which is a statutory assessment for Year 1 pupils in state schools, typically at the age of six.

Teachers carry out the test in June on a one-to-one basis, checking if pupils can identify 40 real or made-up words.

The expected standard is to get 32 out of 40 correct, and those who do not will have the check again at the end of Year 2.

Almost 7,700 Oxfordshire children took the phonics check this year, and 92 per cent were meeting the expected standard of phonic decoding by the end of Year 2.

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This was down slightly on 93 last year, but still above the national average of 91 per cent.

Concerns have been raised by critics about children being put under exam pressure at too young an age.

Layla Moran, who was a teacher before becoming Oxford West and Abingdon MP, has previously expressed that SATs should be scrapped.

Writing in a column for the Oxford Mail's sister paper the Herald Series last year, she said: "The high-stakes testing we subject our children to is killing their love of learning.

"We [the Liberal Democrats] will abolish Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs and replace them with lighter touch teacher moderated assessment."

Earlier this year Labour made the same pledge, with leader Jeremy Corbyn telling the National Education Union conference: "SATs and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears."

New Key Stage 1 assessments were introduced in 2016 to raise the standard in line with a more challenging, national curriculum.