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Ditched IT test a 'burden'

The Government is abandoning plans to make pupils sit a statutory test in ICT at key stage 3.

The announcement came after exams watchdog QCA advised ministers that testing 14-year-olds in ICT in the same way as English, maths and science would be an unnecessary burden for schools.

The move came after the Government spent more than pound;20 million developing and piloting the on-screen test, which has reportedly been fraught with teething problems.

In a speech at the British Educational Training and Technology Show in London, Jim Knight, schools minister, said that a new version of the test would be made available for teachers to use throughout the key stage, when they choose to assess a child's progress.

Results of the more informal tests will not be published in league tables, as was initially suggested in the 2005 14-19 Education and Skills white paper.

The news has been welcomed by Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary. She said: "The last thing we needed was another high-stakes accountability test to feed performance league tables."

Greg Watson, chief executive of exam board OCR, said: "The QCA should treat this abandonment as a salutary lesson in relation to e-assessment. It is clear that, after the expenditure of over pound;20 million, it has still been unable to create something robust enough to serve as a compulsory test."

Mr Knight also used his speech at the Olympia exhibition centre to outline his plan to form a "Home Access Task Force" with key IT suppliers and voluntary bodies. The team would aim to ensure every child, no matter how poor, has access to computers and the internet at home.

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