GIRLS are performing significantly better than boys in the key stage two SATs, figures show.

Youngsters in Bournemouth are performing above the national average – however, Poole and the Dorset county area are still lagging behind.

Department for Education figures show 66 per cent of Bournemouth 11-year-olds who took their SATs in May achieved the government's required score, against a national average of 64 per cent.

The figures in Poole and Dorset were 61 and 60 per cent respectively.

In total, 1,732 children in Dorset, 550 in Poole and 570 in Bournemouth did not achieve the required score.

Girls did better than boys across Dorset, with 68 per cent meeting requirements in Bournemouth, compared with only 56 per cent of boys in Dorset county.

Pupils scored best at science, with more than 80 per cent meeting standards. The worst performance was reading in Bournemouth, maths in Poole and writing in Dorset.

Campaigners claim schools looking to climb league tables focus too much on high SAT scores, and that SATs have "failed a generation of children".

They claim younger children should be assessed in a less stressful way, particularly as students score much more highly in teacher assessments than in tests.

Madeleine Holt of education lobby group More than a Score said: "The apparent discrepancy between the KS2 SAT scores and the published teacher assessments shows just how unreliable the high-stakes accountability system has become.

"A snapshot assessment of four years of academic work is likely to be intrinsically limited in what it tells you about a child."

The Association of School and College Leaders has called collecting two sets of results – SAT scores and teacher assessments – "cumbersome and inconsistent".

Policy director Julie McCulloch said: "These two forms of assessment focus on different things, and reporting on both can be confusing and unhelpful."

The Department for Education said the results were an improvement on 2017.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "The Key Stage 2 tests play a vital role in ensuring that children have been taught, and have acquired a sound knowledge of, the fundamentals of reading, writing and mathematics.

"We trust schools not to put undue pressure on pupils when administering these assessments, and certainly not at the expense of their wellbeing.

"Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, education standards are rising in our schools, with 1.9million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010."

This year, more than 7,000 Year 6 pupils across the county took the tests, which are intended to measure how well a child is doing in three key subjects – reading, mathematics, and grammar.

They are also used to evaluate how well primary schools are preparing their pupils for secondary school.