The onscreen tests, which assess pupils' skills in data handling, modelling and information, were hailed as the future of examinations and due to go nationwide next year. But they were plagued by technical difficulties in the early stages. There were also fears they would clash with other imminent reforms. At the last minute, officials at the Department for Education and Skills and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority decided the tests would not be mandatory.
"It was decided that to have another compulsory test was not desirable at this time," said Sue Walton, who led the QCA project. "But this year's pilot went very well. There were next to no technical problems and we have an awful lot of schools behind the initiative."
Children will be able to sit the tests as and when they are ready to help teachers keep track of their progress. More than 1,000 schools and 123,000 pupils took the test this year.