Nick Clegg has today declared that “every primary school should make its pupils ready for secondary school by the time they leave”.
The government outlined proposals to rank children according to national performance in English and maths at the age of 11, so that schools and parents will know how their children score in relation to all other pupils in England before the start of secondary education.
Current national curriculum test results (Sats) ‘levels’ will be scrapped. Exams taken at 11 would be dramatically toughened up from 2016 in line with “higher expectations” set out in a new national curriculum published last week. Under the proposals, pupil’s Sats results would be divided into 10 bands and schools and parents would be able to see which band their child was placed in.
Schools will be expected to have a minimum of 85% of their pupils reach a required assessment level in maths, reading, spelling, punctuation , grammar and writing before they move on to secondary school.
There is the possibility of a baseline test at age 5 instead of the current Sats at age 7 against which progress in primary school could be measured. This could be a positive move – most primary schools have children from age 5 to 11 so testing at 7 does not provide a genuine baseline. It also does not offer schools an incentive to push children in the first couple of years to ensure that they perform well on an age 7 baseline as this will not reflect well in their ‘progress achieved’ rating.
There will also be a significant increase in the ‘pupil premium’, which is clearly intended to enable schools to ensure their pupils meet threshold levels of attainment.
Mumsnet users are already threatening to start a campaign to organise a mass boycott of these tests if the idea of ability bands becomes a reality.
Consultation on the proposals for the new primary assessment will take place between now and October – more information can be found on the DfE website
This will be an interesting space to watch.