National tests for six and seven year olds

national exams for 6 7 year oldsPlans to revive national testing for seven year olds around England could be implemented by ministers as early as next year.

The plans to reintroduce tests for seven year olds have been announced after channel 4’s documentary ‘Dispatches’ uncovered schools were attempting to cheat the exam system in an attempt to boost their league table performance. Currently, year two pupils sit tests which are marked by teachers and moderated by local councils. However teachers were found to be marking down pupils initially and as a result at the next assessment the child shows inflated progress so teachers can hit their improvement targets with relative ease. After uncovering the cheating the government look set to bring the national key stage 1 tests back, with the Department for Education stating that by introducing these national exams will also allow the workload for teachers to lighten due to no longer needing to carry out or mark individual assessments.

The key stage 1 assessments were abolished ten years ago because it was argued that they put too much pressure on pupils at such a young age. The Department for Education wants to introduce the tests so it can better monitor progress of children who are expected to improve by two levels between year two and the end of primary school. Currently pupil’s first experience of national exams comes at the age of 11 in their final year of primary school. Implementing the key stage 1 exams will allow the government the opportunity to monitor the progress of the pupils between year 3 and year 6.

The NAHT and ATL unions are unhappy with the idea, threatening to boycott any new national tests, believing that they will set children up to fail in the early years, when youngsters develop at very different speeds. Both the NAHT and ATL general secretaries came out saying the idea of bringing back these tests is “total nonsense” and “a step too far”.

But what do primary teachers think of this idea? Would these exams help reduce the workload, or will this end up damage children’s learning? What do you think? However it this just the Department of Education not trusting schools and teachers due to the actions of a few schools?

Have your say here…

6 thoughts on “National tests for six and seven year olds

  1. Children have been tested with sats at the end of year 2 for as long as I can remember marked and moderated by teachers. So now the “exams” will be marked externally. As long as the results are compiled and used to judge school performance and as a stick to beat the teachers and the “coasting” schools then teachers will be forced to teach to the test with all the misery and stress that will entail for very small children. The reporting of the results of the phonics test to parents is always the saddest part of the school year for me. Usually between 10% and 20% of children are made aware that at 5/6 years old they have “failed”. They are usually SEN or EAL. Many EAL children pass by learning the rules parrot fashion but sadly have no understanding of the words they have learnt to “decode”.

  2. I was a Year 2 teacher and actually the SATs never really went away because although they weren’t externally marked the children still ‘did them’ and joy of joys I had the pleasure of marking them all. So I find this article misleading in saying that the first national exams come at 11 years of age. It is infact age 6/7.

  3. When are bureaucrats going to learn that testing does not improve learning? And when are they just going to trust teachers to do their jobs, giving them the resources that they need to accomplish them?

  4. I oppose this plan. It’s too much pressure on very young children who have only just started school! Also, it enforces rigidity in classrooms, and “teaching to the test.” Individual teachers have less time for their own activities and plans, and for activities that are more appropriate for that age and for physical, creative, and arts activities. As far as assessments, teacher-based assessments are much better. They can be more flexible, more responsive to the needs of the local area and the particular group of students, and the assessments can be more creative. They can have more oral, essay, and project-type activities, rather than just multiple choice and fill in the blank. The Sri Lankan system of teacher-based assessments, introduced in the early 2000’s, which I helped several teachers with, was a great idea. So don’t let a few cheating teachers (in the U.K.! I thought British teachers were honest!) ruin the whole good system of teacher-based assessment.

  5. I was a year 2 teacher for many years and the children from level 2 up took sats papers in exam conditions . It’s pretty much a jumping through hoops test which only required the children to be familiar with what it looked like. The contents are what is taught anyway, so not a big deal.
    I don’t think though that these should alone measure the school, the teacher or the pupil.
    Life is about being tested and precessional life is competitive so I think it’s good to get the children in there early, BUT I think that a child who fails their sats in year 2 is not a lost sheep as children progress at different paces especially when they are so little.
    Year 2 is very hard work for a teacher who has to sit the children to a test for the first time, do all the marking, all the data analysis and go through all the moderation afterwards.
    It’s also unbelievable that any teacher would cheat. I never would ,not even if my boss didn’t like the figures. Integrity is essential in a good teacher.
    Let’s remember that we are talking of stressed adults often in sole charge of 30+ 7 year olds , pressured by their bosses. Let’s stand united and supportive of each other.

  6. I am a tutor who supports additional learning for pupils outside of School hours. I am pro teachers and support Schools and Colleges all the way, whole class teaching can be stressful and highly pressured. However,I find this potential new reform ridiculous. If teaching staff are ‘cheating the system’ then why on earth should the pupils suffer even more gruelling pressure to ‘perform’? Sanctions should be placed upon the School,they should be assessed and moderated instead. Clearly the fault lies with the individual teacher and not the pupil. Perhaps they need to improve their teaching rather than to ‘cheat’ to make it look as if the child has improved?

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