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.”
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