Almost half of pupils in England have failed to meet a new tough standard in reading, writing and mathematics.

Official data shows just over half (53%) of 11-year-olds made the grade in reading, writing and mathematics.

This means 47% of pupils are considered not to have made the grade in the 3 Rs by the end of their primary years.

Last year 80% met the required standard in reading, writing and maths - but that was under a system which was dropped this year.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says lower results should not be interpreted as a decline in performance by pupils.

This year's tests were more demanding and were based on a new curriculum.

Department for Education statistics show:

  • 66% of pupils met the standard in reading

  • 70% in maths

  • 72% in grammar, punctuation and spelling

  • 74% in the teacher-assessed writing

    The overall figure of 53% relates to the number of pupils who reached the expected standard in all three subjects.

    Previously, attainment at the end of Key Stage 2 was measured in Levels - Level 4c being the expected standard for pupils in their final year of primary school.

    However, in the new tests, the expected level is set at 100 but scores can range between 80 and 120 - this means that anything at 100 or over is, in effect, a pass and anything under is a fail.