Why are more primary schools under the spotlight for exam cheating?

A series of high-profile primary schools have hit the headlines over the past year for cheating during statutory exams – and in many cases, pupils’ results have been annulled following investigations by officials.  The Independent reports.

Now it has emerged that these cases are part of a growing trend where more and more primary schools are being examined over alleged “maladministration” of the national curriculum tests.  

So what is happening? Why are teachers in primary schools resorting to apparently desperate measures? And how are young children being affected by a narrow focus on Sats in some schools?

Earlier this year, a headteacher was banned from the classroomafter she told staff that the school would close and they would lose their jobs if they did not secure good results. The school leader also gave inappropriate assistance to pupils in their Sats exams, which led to the results being annulled.

Children who have their results declared invalid will often have teacher assessments passed on to their new secondary school instead. And most schools reassess pupils in year 7 anyway before streaming them in year 8.

It does beg the question whether the high-stakes tests are worth it? After all, the transition of primary school pupils whose parents decided to boycott the exams, or those who had their results annulled because of maladministration, to secondary school is likely to be widely unaffected.  

Schools standards minister Nick Gibb has previously argued that children should take tests earlier to help them cope with exam-related mental health problems in later life.

However, for the culture to really change for the better, and for schools to become less focused on the year 6 exams, staff need more reassurance from the government that test results will not be the sole way that schools are judged. This would reduce the pressure to perform and probably see a concomitant decline in cheating.

Read more Why are more primary schools under the spotlight for exam cheating?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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