Sorry Mike, but for once I don't agree with you on this one. Surely if Wirral introduced a Maths paper, then children would simply be tutored up to the required standard in maths. I concur that some children can't do maths as well as VR but the revese is also true, wouldn't you therefore get a different mix of children at Wirral grammar schools?
Also I admit that I was shocked when, through tutoring my daugher last year, I discovered that her school simply hadn't covered enough of the basics in maths to give her even an outside chance of completing an NFER paper in Maths let alone stand a chance of gaining a place at our preferred school. Division and multiplication in particular were barely covered by the November of Y6 as the school is geared to KS2 exams in May. I should add that this is a primary school whose KS2 results are well above average.
Have to say I think that level 4b reflects a pretty low standard in maths, and is achievable without knowing chunks of the curriculum. To illustrate this, let me put forward my own son as an example. End of Year 4 achieved level 3b in Maths and therefore theoretically on target for level 4b at the end of Year 6. Ok so he has severe learning difficulties so school think this is great. Looking at how he acheived this tremendous mark
he scores about 80% in one area of maths and 30% in another. The 30% troubles me greatly but school aren't bothered one iota as he's average. (won't get into the politics of SEN at this point but I'm sure that you get my drift). Having worked with children other than my own on their primary maths I know that whilst exaggerated the example of my own child is not unique.
Isn't it therefore possible that the deficit is in the Education system rather than in the child's ability?
Just a thought..