Primary schools 'failing to disclose test results'

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The Independent Online
Primary schools are breaking the law by refusing to disclose the test results of seven and 11-year-olds, it was revealed last night.

Officials at the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) last night refused to take action on the problem, saying it was up to local authorities to ensure the information was made available to parents. Under the Parent's Charter, schools must publish the results in their prospectuses and in their annual reports to governors.

From next year, the results of 11-year-olds will be published in national league tables, Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, announced last month. Those of seven-year-olds should continue to be made available to parents who request them. But a survey by the Mail on Sunday revealed that four out of 17 schools in the Sheffield Brightside constituency of David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, were refusing to provide the results. In Mrs Shephard's Norfolk South West constituency, 14 out of 57 failed to do so.

Last night a spokeswoman for the DfEE underlined the rules on disclosure but said it was not planning any sanctions against such schools at present.

"If someone contacts the school, then under the Parent's Charter they must give them the information requested. If schools aren't doing that, local education authorities must make them aware it is something they must do," she said.

Some of the schools contacted argued that publication could identify the results of individual pupils because their numbers were very small. Others said they had a policy of not releasing results because they did not believe the tests were a fair measure of a school's performance. They did not give any indication of pupils' abilities, they said.

A boycott by teachers' unions between 1992 and 1994 meant that many schools did not carry out the tests. But a spokesman for the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority said last night that since the protest ended almost all schools had reported their results to the DfEE.

Graham Lane, chairman of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities' education committee, said last night that it believed all schools should disclose results to parents.

Mr Lane said local authorities wanted to publish league tables including both test results and data on other factors such as the number of children taking free school meals, but they were being prevented from doing so by ministers. ''If we administered the results we would consult with teachers about how to publish the information and then we would get on with it and do it. Parents ought to know how these schools are performing.''

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