School testing regime relaxed

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All children will no longer take the same school tests at seven and 11, under a U-turn to be announced by the Government. And a root-and-branch review of the national curriculum for primary schools will also be launched to ensure that all pupils learn a foreign language before they move on to secondary school.

The two moves will be included in a 10-year Children's Plan to be published tomorrow by Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary. The tests which critics say turn children into "exam junkies" will become more like music examinations, with teachers deciding when pupils should take them. The "testing when ready" approach is already being piloted, and will now be extended nationwide.

Mr Balls said the tests were important because parents wanted to see how their children and schools were doing.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the last thing schools needed was more Government control over what was taught. "The meddling of Government has got to stop," he said.