Politician takes grammar test to highlight Sats stress

"Subjunctive needs work for a perfect score," says marker

Helen Ward

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A politician who took a Sats test to highlight the stress young children go through received his results today.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, spent an "agonising" hour answering questions on conjunctions and determiners under exam conditions at his home.

Today he found out his efforts resulted in 67 out of 70 marks on the spelling, grammar and punctuation (Spag) test, which was marked by Ronald Stewart, a London teacher.

Mr Stewart found Mr Bartley met the expected standard for a Year 6 pupil, but his "subjunctive needs work for a perfect score".

The Green Party has said that it wants to abolish all Sats tests, arguing that they put children under unnecessary stress at a young age.

'We have to listen to the parents and teachers'

"We must end the conveyor belt of testing kids are subjected to,” Mr Bartley said. “It’s time we turned our education system into a springboard for life, rather than a diving board into stress and anxiety.

“We have to listen to the parents and teachers who are telling us that Sats place undue and unnecessary pressure on children. We have to listen to the researchers who are showing us that the constant exams children are being subjected to is increasing their rates of anorexia, depression and self-harm.

Mr Stewart said: “It was a pleasure marking Jonathan's paper. Clearly, he was a top student. But I do know, from my own experience of teaching, the amount of pressure these papers put on pupils and teachers alike."

Mr Bartley took the 2016 papers, consisting of a 45-minute test paper and a 15-minute spelling test. In 2016, a score of 67 was equivalent to a scaled score of 117, which puts him in the top 2 per cent of pupils.

More than half a million ten and 11-year-olds took the Sats tests earlier this month in reading, Spag and maths. The reading test was thought to be easier than last year, but the maths test was considered tougher.

Political reforms

The Conservative government had begun a consultation into the future of primary assessment before the general election was called. The consultation is open until 22 June and proposes scrapping key stage 1 Sats if a baseline assessment is introduced in reception.

In its manifesto, the Conservative Party has said: “We will ensure that assessments at the end of primary school draw from a rich knowledge base, and reduce teaching to the test.”

Labour has said it will launch a commission to look into curriculum and assessment, starting by reviewing KS1 and key stage 2 Sats. The Liberal Democrats have also said they will work with the profession to reform tests at 11.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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