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.
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for...