National tests for 14-year-olds are scrapped after marking chaos

But 11-year-old children at schools in England still face Sats next summer

National curriculum tests due to be taken by 600,000 14-year-olds at schools in England next summer have been scrapped in the wake of this year's marking fiasco.

The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said yesterday that an expert group would develop a system of assessment by teachers instead. The decision, described as a U-turn by his political opponents, was welcomed by teachers' leaders, parents and MPs as reducing the exams burden on children.

Mr Balls made clear that externally marked Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) for 11-year-olds, taken at the end of primary school and used to compile league tables, would remain. However, he said pupils might in future be allowed to sit them when they were ready, rather than sit all their exams on the same day at the end of term. Seven-year-olds will continue to be tested by teachers.

Mr Balls said tests for 11-year-olds would provide accountability for primary schools, and that GCSEs and A-levels would be sufficient to show the performance of secondary schools, without the need for tests at age 14.

In addition, the Government unveiled plans for a school report card – giving every state school an A to F grade depending on its exam performance, truancy rate and how well it improved pupils' attainment – as a simpler guide to performance to run alongside league tables and inspectors' reports.

Mr Balls had come under immense pressure from teaching unions and MPs to slim down the exhaustive testing regime. The strain on children was exacerbated by the chaos surrounding this summer's Sats results. ETS Europe, an American company contracted to mark tests for 11- and 14-year-olds, failed to meet its July deadline. The firm was sacked – and some Sats papers have still not been marked.

The decision to abolish Sats for older children will make it easier to find a contractor to mark next year's tests for 11-year-olds because the workload will be much more manageable.

Margaret Morrissey, of the pressure group Parents Outloud, said the move was "the first sensible decision Ed Balls has made", while Christine Blower, the leader of the National Union of Teachers, said it was "an admission that the current testing system has failed".

"For too long English, maths and science teachers in secondary schools have found themselves skewing everything to enable their pupils to jump through hoops," Ms Blower added. "The marking disaster of this year's tests has clearly been the last straw." However, Mick Brookes, the general-secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, described the change as "an opportunity missed", saying: "We are dismayed at the decision to keep the current test arrangements for key stage two [11-year-olds]. This will mean England's 10- and 11-year-olds will be the only children in the UK to be put under this pressure."

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, welcomed what he called "the Government's complete U-turn". "Sats tests taken by 14-year-olds are not only a waste of time but have been highly unreliable in the last few years," he added.

A White Paper to be published next year will set out plans for all schools in England to have a report card, giving parents a simple run-down of a school's performance. A template for this is used in New York, where schools are awarded a grade from A to F: 85 per cent of the marks are attributed to educational attainment and 15 per cent to other measures such as wellbeing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...

Job opportunities for SEN teachers and support staff in Essex

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice