New test for 14-year-old pupils

Election Countdown
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The Independent Online
Fourteen year-olds will be tested in 10 different subjects if the Conservatives win the election, Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education announced yesterday.

In a statement faxed to journalists from Conservative Central Office, Mrs Shephard said the existing tests in English, Maths and Science would be supplemented by an exam covering seven more subjects.

The new test would cover all the compulsory subjects in the curriculum, she said, and pupils would be rewarded with a new Certificate of Education which would form a major part of their school achievement records.

The new certificate will extend compulsory testing at 14 to technology, history, geography, art, music, physical education and modern foreign languages.

It will be recorded on each pupil's National Record of Achievement, a new report on progress at school which will note exam results along with other successes, such as being a prefect or having a good attendance record.

Mrs Shephard said the test would help to guide pupils' choices after 14 on which GCSEs or vocational qualifications they should take. It would also reinforce the importance of all subjects in the curriculum and the need for them to be well taught, she said.

"Above all ... this will emphasise Conservative concern for the achievements of every pupil and the importance of every educational route to success. These measures will encourage all pupils to achieve excellence," she said.

The announcement was attacked by teachers' unions, but brought an equivocal response from Labour, which said its priorities were the basic skills of literacy and numeracy. However, party sources said, testing at 14 would be considered as part of a full review planned for the millennium.