Nine in ten schools shun Patten's tests for 14-year-olds

FEWER than one in 10 schools will complete this week's compulsory national tests for 14- year-olds, it was revealed yesterday. A protest by secondary-school teachers will make it impossible for any comparison of school results to be carried out and will cause deep embarrassment to the embattled Secretary of State for Education, John Patten.

A group representing more than 350 secondary schools says that only a handful of its members will conduct the tests in English, mathematics and science and report the results to the Government, and that the take-up could be as low as 5 per cent.

Leaders of the main headteachers' organisations have backed the view of the National Co-ordinating Committee on Learning and Assessment (NCCLA), of which 350 secondary schools are members, that as few as 30,000 of the 600,000 14-year-olds in England and Wales may take the tests.

Last year, the three main teachers' unions boycotted the tests in protest at the extra workload they created and the fact that their results could be used to compile league tables. They were cancelled in all but a few hundred of the country's 4,000 secondary schools, and in response Mr Patten agreed to slim down both the national curriculum and testing. The National Union of Teachers is the only union still boycotting, but it now looks as if other teachers are not prepared to carry out the tests this year.

Mr Patten faces a difficult decision on whether to let the matter drop or to take action against teachers who boycott the tests. Although there is no statutory duty on them to carry out the tests, they may be in breach of their contracts of employment if they refuse to do so.

Few local authorities seem likely to dock their pay for the offence, although Wandsworth, in south London, is recruiting retired teachers and inspectors to carry out the tests and individual schools in other areas may follow suit.

Although almost all schools have requested copies of the test papers, few are expected to complete marking and reporting the results. Some will be unable to do so because of the boycott by the NUT. Others have decided that they do not like the tests or that their results could be used in league tables.

David Martin, headteacher of Chenderit School in Oxfordshire and convenor of the NCCLA, said that very few of the schools in the group would carry out all the tests and report the results. He added that his school would not test children unless their parents specifically asked for them to be tested. So far, no one had requested this.

He said: 'We still feel that the tests are unreliable and invalid, and that nationally we could do a lot better than this. They are short tests which don't give you any help in the process of diagnosing children's problems.'

The cancellation of the teachers' boycott by two of the three main unions had had little effect, he said. In many schools, headteachers and staff from all unions were in agreement that the tests should not go ahead.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said some schools would simply cancel all the tests, while others would do them but would not forward the results to their local authorities.

Some headteachers who have spoken out on the issue have received strongly worded letters from the Department for Education reminding them of their obligations. The subject that has proved most controversial is English, with compulsory papers on Shakespeare for all but the least able pupils.

Anne Barnes, general secretary of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said some English teachers might use some of the papers, though they would not necessarily carry out the tests this week and the results would not be reported.

'I think most English teachers will boycott the tests. Whatever happens it will be a hopeless muddle,' she said.

Tests for seven- and 11- year-olds are also likely to yield a low return from schools this year, as most NUT members are in primary schools. Schools were given from February until June to complete tests for seven-year-olds, and from April until July to complete those for 11-year-olds, which are voluntary this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas