Lib Dems say they would abolish national curriculum exams

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The Independent Online

National curriculum tests taken by 1.2 million pupils every summer should be scrapped, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will say today.

He will tell a seminar hosted by the think-tank CentreForum that his party proposes abolishing tests for seven and 14-year-olds: "The regime of testing and targets is based more on the need to evaluate schools rather than the personal needs of pupils." England's testing regime is, he says, "as centralised and de-personalised as any in the developed world".

Mr Clegg is the first party leader to call for the abolition of national curriculum tests on such a large scale – a move which will give the Liberal Democrats' next election manifesto a distinctive flavour on education.

His pledge will be welcomed by heads and teachers' leaders who have been arguing that the current testing regime is destroying pupils' interest in education, with schools teaching to the tests and abandoning a broader range of subjects to ensure they perform well in government league tables.

Mr Clegg will argue that the tests should be replaced by an assessment of every child when they start school at five to determine what help they may need with reading, writing and maths.

The Liberal Democrats believe the tests for 11-year-olds should stay as an indicator of what pupils can achieve as they start secondary schooling.