Headteachers lose faith in tests for 11-year-olds

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The Independent Online

Most secondary schools are testing pupils in the three Rs on their arrival because they have lost confidence in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds, senior government advisers reveal today.

Most secondary schools are testing pupils in the three Rs on their arrival because they have lost confidence in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds, senior government advisers reveal today.

Headteachers believe there is too much coaching for the 11-year-old tests in primary schools so they do not have an accurate picture of how well each child can read, write or add up. And they do not receive individual pupils' scores until too late to make decisions on what set each pupil should be in for each subject.

The charges are made in a book, Excellence in Education: the making of great schools, by Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust and a senior government adviser, and Conor Ryan, special adviser to David Blunkett when he was Secretary of State for Education. They support encouraging secondary schools to test pupils in their first few weeks, saying it helps "more closely identify the range of ability in their incoming class" and decide "which pupils should be in the first track sets for each subject and those requiring remedial help".

They say shortcomings of the national curriculum tests show there is an urgent need to improve them. "Some of those headteachers which have been concerned about the validity of the key stage two [11-year-old] tests believe it would be better if secondary schools administered the tests themselves," they add.

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