Sats for 11-year-olds may eventually go, says Balls

Ed Balls today indicated Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) for 11-year-olds could be scrapped in the future as he faced the looming threat of a union boycott of next year's tests.

In what will be seen as a bid to appease the two teaching unions threatening the boycott, the schools secretary said that in future, teacher assessment of pupils' achievement will be published alongside Sats data in achievement and attainment tables.



In May, the Government's expert group on testing recommended ministers look at investing and improving teacher assessment in order to judge whether it would be possible to "move away" from externally marked tests, such as Sats, in the future.



Speaking today, Mr Balls said: "I'm absolutely not closing the door on long term reform, but we would only move away from externally marked tests if we were 100% confident we could provide for parents that objective assessment and validation."



Mr Balls claimed plans to publish teacher assessment data alongside Sats data had come from Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), one of the two unions proposing a boycott.



He said: "Mick Brookes has said to us that he believes, and his key members believe that publishing teacher assessment alongside externally validated tests is a real step forward.



"It is a proposal he put forward to us."



He added: "I think Mick is making good suggestions and we want to work together in partnership on this."



Pupils take Sats in English and maths in the final year of primary school.



Last October, Mr Balls scrapped Sats for 14-year-olds, in the wake of last summer's marking fiasco, and the science test for 11-year-olds was abolished earlier this year on the advice of the expert group.



Today he highlighted these moves as he insisted the system "was not set in stone."



He added later: "We are not closing the door to teacher assessment playing a bigger role. The steps we are taking now will strengthen that role."



Mr Balls did say that ministers do not have full confidence in teacher assessment at the moment, so Sats tests will remain for now.











Under today's announcement, teacher assessment data will be published alongside Sats data from next year.

From 2011 there will be "light touch" moderation of teacher assessment.



The NAHT and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) both passed resolutions at their annual conferences this year calling for a boycott if Sats are not scrapped.



They want to see Sats replaced by teacher assessment and argue the tests are bad for children, teachers and education, and cause unnecessary stress.



The unions also want to see school league tables abolished.



Both unions, which represent a large proportion of primary school teaching staff, are surveying members to see if they would be willing to support the action.



If this shows widespread support, formal ballots will be taken at a later stage.



Mr Brookes said: "This is a step in the right direction. It is good to have teacher assessment acknowledged as being important as part of the way in which children's work is assessed.



"Although it is a step in the right direction, it is not a step far enough yet. There are other things we need to secure our aims."



He said the union wants Year 6 pupils to have "the best year possible", and this does not mean rehearsing for Sats tests for up to 10 hours a week in the Spring term.



"NAHT will not rest until every child leaves their primary school with information about their academic progress that is 100% accurate," Mr Brookes said.



"Parents and teachers in the secondary sector must receive precise information about the progress of individual children in order to properly engage in planning the next stages of their learning journey."



Mr Brookes added that the boycott was not being called off at this stage.



Mr Balls said today it would be "very disruptive" for anyone to not cooperate with the tests, adding that he didn't believe heads and teachers would think that was the right thing to do.



He added: "We are clearly saying we want to work with you, we want a form of accountability, we want a form of teacher assessment, but we also want to make sure every parent knows, in an externally validated way, how their child is doing and how the school is doing."









NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "The fact that Ed Balls has repeated that testing and assessment are 'not set in stone' is welcome. The fact that he speaks warmly of teacher assessment is also welcome.

"However, his enthusiasm to tell us that he wants what 'works best for pupils and schools' is not borne out by his decision to both maintain the Sats next year and publish the results. However, his proposals may show a welcome shift in position. We would want to see the detail of his proposals and be fully involved in the discussion on their implications.



"We believe we have won the case on tests and teacher assessment. Our petition and work with parents and the wider community shows that there is precious little support for the tests in their present form.



"The NUT has always supported teacher assessment as the best indicator, both of what children and young people can do, and the best way to support their learning.



"Both the NUT and NAHT know that league tables based on test results do a disservice to many of our schools. The NUT is enthusiastic to engage with the Secretary of State on the School Report Card as a way forward. We have many positive suggestions to make which will give parents and the wider community the real picture of the good work schools are doing.



"We look forward to working closely with the Secretary of State and our colleagues in the NAHT on these important professional matters."



Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: "This announcement represents the worst of all worlds for the classroom teacher and will create confusion for parents.



"This is a shift from the school being held accountable to individual classroom teachers shouldering this burden.



"It is, therefore, not surprising that this suggestion has come from a former headteacher. What is surprising is that the Secretary of State has accepted it.



"Individual teachers will be left exposed to criticism of their professional judgment and the potential for their professional reputation to be impugned."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
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

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Year 6 Teacher needed for 1 Term- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 6 larger then life teach...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Jobs Available Devon

Supply teachers needed- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering