First tests for eleven-year-olds set for summer

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The Independent Online
CHILDREN of 11 will have to spell cold and illuminated, do long multiplication with and without calculators and say which materials are used to make an electric switch in the first national tests for 11-year- olds to be taken this summer.

The pencil-and-paper tests in English, maths and science, which were released yesterday, are being sent to more than 14,000 schools which have volunteered for a national pilot. Pupils can take the tests at any time from the beginning of next term.

Fewer than 1 per cent of the 18,000 eligible primary and middle schools took part in last year's pilot tests for 11-year- olds because of a boycott by three teacher unions. This year tests for 7-, 11- and 14-year-olds will be boycotted only by the National Union of Teachers.

Yesterday, the union accused the Government of trying to reintroduce the 11-plus by the back door. John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education said: 'This is completely untrue.' His department added that the tests were not designed to select pupils.

The tests will take four-and- a-quarter hours in all and are supposed to take teachers between 45 minutes and an hour to mark for each pupil.

In English, pupils will read a magazine containing a story, an article on motorway wildlife, two letters and a poem, and answer questions on them. They will also have to write a story in 45 minutes, choosing time travel, the beginning 'Just go through that door and keep going until you reach the tunnel' or the title 'The Long Road to Tomorrow'.

For the spelling test, the teacher will read out a passage with missing words which the pupils must fill in. There will be two maths papers of 35 minutes each, with graphs, geometry and fractions, and two science papers including questions on space and the weather. The least-able pupils will do tasks in small groups rather than pencil-and-paper tests and there will be separate papers in maths and science for the brightest children.

From the results, pupils will be placed on levels ranging from one to six. Most schools will not have to release the results to the Government. However, 2 per cent of schools have been asked to carry out the tests under formal conditions so that the results can be evaluated. The first compulsory assessments for all pupils will be next summer.

Chris Woodhead, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, said: 'We are very pleased that there has been such a strong response in favour of the tests.'