Nick Clegg accused the Conservative Party of 'endless navel-gazing'

Debate: Nick Clegg has proposed tests for five and 11-year-olds. Do we need tougher exams for the young?

Share
Related Topics

 

What's going on?

Nick Clegg has defended plans to introduce tougher tests for school pupils at the ages of five and eleven.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that the exams, which pupils would take as they enter primary school, and at the start of Key Stage 2, will not turn schools into "exam sausage factories".

He stressed the exam for five-year-olds would form a "baseline" to measure progress against at age 11. Under the changes, 85 per cent of pupils would have to reach a "good level of attainment" by 2016, and test scores would be ranked against peers.

The National Union of Teachers warned this would label pupils who do not reach that standard "failures" at an early age.

So do we need a stricter exam system for the young?

Case for: Rigour

The myth persists that primary school education is of significantly less importance than that received in secondary school.  But without good primary school teaching, it is far more difficult for pupils to achieve well at secondary school. For pupils from poorer backgrounds, the early years carry particular weight. So, Clegg's proposals should be welcomed: they will introduce a level of accountability currently missing from our school system - and stop pupils falling through the gaps.

Case against: Stress

Haven't we got enough tests already? The introduction of yet more risks turning primary school into another set of hurdles to be cleared, rather than a time in a young person's life to explore and enjoy their education. Even if the marks of these tests do not count towards a pupil's progress through the school system, importing more stress into primary schools will unnerve pupils, parents, and could potentially contaminate the primary school system.

React Now

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
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