Sats tests for seven-year-olds to be scrapped

Justine Greening announces new proposals to ease pressure on children and 'free up teachers'

School Pupil
(Image credit: 2015 Getty Images)

Statutory tests for seven-year-olds in England's primary schools are to be scrapped following complaints they place too much pressure on young children.

Under new proposals from the Department for Education, pupils will instead be assessed without realising they are being tested.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said the new model would provide a "stable assessment system that helps children learn, while freeing up teachers to do what they do best – supporting children to fulfil their potential".

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The plans are now open for consultation and any changes will take effect next year.

At present, Key Stage 1 "Sats" are held in English, maths, spelling and grammar to monitor a child's progress. Pupils sit another set of the same exams at the age of 11, allowing parents and teachers to measure their achievement.

However, "teacher, heads, academics and parents have been speaking with one voice on the issue for some time" and telling the government that seven is too young for formal exams, says the BBC.

That pressure was intensified when the exams became more difficult last year with the introduction of a new curriculum, it adds.

The exams were so unpopular that hundreds of parents protested by taking their children out of school on the day they were due to be sat.

Consequently, today's news has been welcomed by teachers and campaigners.

"A massive cheer from us all here," said the Let Kids Be Kids protest group. "A massive well done to all of you who have piled the pressure on and made this happen.

"A year ago we were planning the May 3 Kids' Strike and look how far we have come!"

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The possibility of ending Key Stage 1 Sats is good news. This creates the time and space in a pupil's primary years for teachers to focus on teaching rather than on high stakes assessment.

"It will properly reward early intervention and it will reduce workload."

However, Chris McGovern, chairman of the right-wing Campaign for Real Education, told the Daily Telegraph that Greening was "trying to buy off" teaching unions.

He said: "It is a retrograde step that will mostly harm the children whose problems need to be diagnosed because you cannot rely on the children to do it."

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