Ofsted chief calls for return of national tests for 14-year-olds

The Guardian is reporting that the chief inspector of schools has urged the government to bring back national tests for 14-year-olds in England as a way of tackling persistent underperformance among the most able pupils.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who heads the schools watchdog Ofsted, said it had been a mistake to abolish the externally marked tests for key stage 3 students.

As a result, he said, thousands of the most able pupils – many from disadvantaged backgrounds – had been left “drifting” through the first few years of secondary school, allowing academic standards to fall and the attainment gap between rich and poor students to widen.

He told critics of testing: “Those who indulge in moaning and whinging about national testing need to remember that when standards decline, it is the most disadvantaged pupils who suffer the most.”

“As chief inspector, I have consistently lamented the failure of too many secondary schools to stretch our most able children, particularly the poorest. If our nation is serious about improving social mobility then our secondary schools have got to start delivering for these children.”

More at: Ofsted chief calls for return of national tests for 14-year-olds

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  1. BarnsleyNASUWT

    SchoolsImprove As teachers call for heads of #Ofsted to have relevant experience in the classroom…

  2. Talkloads

    SchoolsImprove I actually agree with this. Year 9’s in general would benefit from having a focus & it could help prepare for GCSEs too.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Wilshaw’s obsessed with exam grades; what he fails to acknowledge is the misery experienced by students & teachers re: exams

  4. Pupils in the UK, and particularly in England, are among the most-tested in the world.   Most other countries manage without this frequent, mandatory testing and, as we’re constantly told, many of them perform better in those PISA tests the Govt hold up as a gold standard.
    Now Wilshaw wants to inflict another mass test.  Madness.

  5. Stevius

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove  Sir Michael’s argument is that exam grades matter the most to students – they open doors to their next steps – courses, apprenticeships, employment etc. If you are a students living in a community which can be described as being socially and economically deprived, leaving school with the best possible grades is the passport to a better future. In the current climate where social mobility is being challenged, grades are more important than ever.
    If you are not prepared for the examinations then you are disadvantaged. Any notion, philosophy, that teachers are only there to instil a love of learning in others but have no responsibility for the outcome of their charges is, quite simply, ridiculous.

  6. Mark Simmons

    This country is in no way serious about social mobility. Rearranging deckchairs to distract attention from obvious systemic barriers to it – private schools, school ‘choice’, low inheritance taxes with plenty of loopholes etc.

  7. Mark Simmons Exactly. Attempts to increase “equality of opportunity” are unlikely to be effective unless “class-linked inequalities of condition” are significantly reduced, argues Prof Goldthorpe, Oxford uni. Also, more advantaged parents likely to use their wealth to ensure their children retain their competitive edge especially when overall education standards rise. http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/06/educations-role-in-fuelling-social-mobility-is-limited-says-academic-instead-implement-social-and-economic-policies-aimed-at-making-society-more-equal

  8. gov2

    Stevius andylutwyche SchoolsImprove  What doors are opened by testing at 14?  What’s your explanation for other countries managing to get by without such things and yet, according to the likes of Wilshaw, still getting good results?

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