Boy, 11, dies after falling ill during national maths test

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The Independent Online

A boy aged 11 has died after collapsing during a national curriculum test.

A boy aged 11 has died after collapsing during a national curriculum test.

Leslie Elkington, a pupil at Shield Row primary school in Stanley, Co Durham, fell ill during the maths test last Thursday morning and was taken to hospital, but was dead within hours. Durham County Council has ordered an urgent report into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Keith Mitchell, the director of education in Co Durham, said the death was a "bolt from the blue to everyone concerned".

"From what we know he had no previous medical history that would have indicated anything like this was likely," Mr Mitchell said. An inquest into Leslie's death was opened and adjourned yesterday.

Tests for the rest of the day were cancelled after Leslie fell ill and the following day the school closed for the afternoon after a memorial service. Eric Patterson, the school's headteacher, said: "The school has been absolutely devastated by his sudden and unexpected death and our thoughts are now with his family."

Mr Mitchell's statement continued: "Naturally, the sudden death of any young person is a matter of the very greatest concern, and our deepest sympathies go out to his family, relatives and friends at this very sad time.

"I have asked for a full report on the circumstances surrounding last Thursday morning's events, but until the results of a post-mortem examination are known, we are not able to speculate on why this young life has been lost."

National curriculum tests for 11-year-olds have been a source of controversy within the teaching profession. But even those who oppose the tests say they have not heard of cases where children have become ill, although there have been many cases of stress.

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