End of Sats must not detract from vital middle years

Andrew Hill

The abolition of the Sats is a positive development because it rids key stage 3 of the negative aspects that have blighted it in recent years - teaching to the test being the main example.

But the disappearance of Sats must not be confused with a diminution of the importance of the middle years. This remains a pivotal stage in a pupil's education, and it is to be hoped that the absence of the tests will encourage teachers to embrace wider parts of the curriculum.

But with this freedom comes responsibility. Geoff Barton was quite right to say that the level of expectation for pupils at this stage has not changed - except perhaps to increase. Accountability for KS3 is firmly back with the teachers, and the lack of national tests will not mean a lack of visibility.

The progress and attainment of pupils will be scrutinised by parents, the Government and the media as everyone waits to see if the benefits of scrapping the tests are realised. This puts pressure on teachers to ensure that not only are they providing comprehensive learning and applicable skills, but that they are also able to make accurate assessments of a pupil's performance and provide evidence for their judgments.

Teachers need support as they refine these skills and earn the trust and confidence of all stakeholders. Without this, we may have a situation in a year's time where instead of rejoicing, people are hankering for the good old days of Year 9 Sats.

Andrew Hill, Director, Edulution education consultancy, London.

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