UK government stops compulsory testing of fourteen-year-olds

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

14-year-old children in Britain are no longer subject to compulsory testing
Image: KF.

The UK Government has stated that children in Britain will no longer be required to take compulsory, externally marked tests at the age of fourteen.

The change takes effect immediately, meaning that children who were due to take the test this year no longer have to do so.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls yesterday announced his plans to radically change the UK testing system, in parliament.

Currently, almost ten million tests are sat each year by British pupils. This change is expected to cut the number of tests taken in half, according to The Guardian.

The tests for seven and eleven year olds are not being abolished. A review group is being set up, however, to research the effect of these tests on eleven-year-olds.

Instead of league tables showing test results, the government will produce report cards for secondary schools. According to Ed Balls, the results from GCSEs will be adequate to judge the performance of schools by their test results.

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The decision to abolish the tests for fourteen year olds came as a result of a situation earlier this year, when there were long delays with the delivery of test results to students of this age.

According to Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the government is admitting that the previous test system failed by making this move.

"For too long English, mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools have found themselves skewing everything to enable their pupils to jump through a series of unnecessary hoops," she claimed, while Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that "the sound of a deep collective sigh of relief will emanate from secondary schools across the country."

Both major UK opposition parties welcomed this move. Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Children Michael Gove stated that his party have "argued for fewer national tests and more rigor and we want to work constructively to improve the assessment and qualifications regime."

David Laws, Shadow Secretary of State for Children for the Liberal Democrats, said that "the Sats tests taken by 14-year-olds are not only a waste of time but have been highly unreliable over the last few years."