Sats for seven-year-olds in England to be scrapped

The Guardian reports that compulsory national tests for seven-year-olds are to be scrapped as part of a radical overhaul of the way progress is measured in England’s primary schools, the government has said.

The controversial standardised tests in reading, writing and maths for year 2 pupils – known as Sats – will become optional from 2023, the education secretary, Justine Greening, has said. They will be replaced with an assessment of children’s abilities at the start of reception year.

The move comes after the key stage 1 tests attracted controversy over the pressure they placed on children at a young age, with teaching unions debating a national boycott and some parents keeping their children off school in protest.

The changes were welcomed by the National Association of Head Teachers. “The decision to make Sats for seven-year-olds non-statutory in favour of a new reception baseline assessment may well be met with trepidation by some, but it is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Nick Brook, the NAHT’s deputy general secretary.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said it was disappointing that the government had chosen to revive baseline assessments at the start of primary schooling.

“No one is arguing against the value of early assessments – but narrow, reductive baseline testing is not the solution,” Leitch said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said her members “accept that there is a need for an on-entry assessment to establish a benchmark for evaluating future pupil progress, but these assessments must be administered in ways that are manageable for schools and do not create additional workload burdens for teachers and school leaders”.

The new baseline assessment – to be carried out by classroom teachers – would begin in 2020, with key stage 1 tests continuing until 2023 in order to maintain accountability measures until the end of primary school, when tests are sat in key stage 2. The changes announced by Greening also include a loosening of requirements for assessing the quality of pupils’ writing in key stage 2, another area that has been the subject of much criticism.

Read more Sats for seven-year-olds in England to be scrapped

Do you think the baseline assessment will be an improvement? A reduction in teacher workload or much of the same? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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