Headteachers’ lack of faith in SATs sees pupils face barrage of tests

Children are facing a battery of new exams at the start of secondary school because head teachers refuse to believe the outcome of “spoon-fed” SATs tests taken at the end of primary education, according to Government research. This is from the Telegraph…

Pupils are being forced to sit a wave of aptitude tests amid growing distrust over the outcome of formal exams taken at the age of 11, it was revealed.

The majority of head teachers now re-test pupils within days of starting secondary school to enable staff to set targets and place pupils in ability sets.

According to research, secondary schools believe feeder primaries are “under pressure to inflate their outcomes” and prefer to use their own exams.

The conclusions come just a month before almost 600,000 children in England prepare to sit tests in maths, reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Primary schools are supposed to ensure that at least six-in-10 pupils pass all three tests.

The worst-performing schools have been told they face being converted into independent academies under the leadership of a third party sponsor for failing to meet exam targets.

But secondary schools feel that the sheer pressure to hit Government benchmarks is forcing some primary schools to “teach to the test” to make sure pupils pass – rendering exam results almost meaningless by the time pupils start secondary school.

A Government-funded study – carried out by the Centre for Education and Inclusion Research at Sheffield Hallam University – found that there was a “perception that primary pupils are ‘spoon-fed’, leading to wrongly judging pupils’ actual ability”.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary head teachers, said: “Many – if not most – secondary heads need to reassess pupils when they come in because their own tests are more reliable.

“Primary schools are judged on these tests and it is no surprise that they’re preparing pupils to pass, even if that results in a narrowing of their education.

“This is why we’ve been against these high-stakes tests for years. We need to have a more sophisticated method of assessing pupils.”

The Government-funded study looked at the impact of so-called “Level 6” tests – harder, optional papers aimed at the very brightest pupils at the end of primary school.

Researchers studied 60 primary schools and 20 secondaries.

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