The first set of Welsh key stage 1 results since the abolition of statutory testing has justified the National Assembly's belief that achievement can be measured by teacher assessment alone.
The results show only a marginal percentage change from those measured by a combination of testing and teacher assessment last year. The proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard of level 2 or above in English was 83 per cent, and in both maths and science was 88 per cent. Eighty-seven per cent of pupils assessed in Welsh instead of English attained level 2 or above.
This produces an average across all schools of 86.5 per cent, compared with 87.6 per cent in England. Girls did better than boys, with 84 per cent achieving at least level 2 compared with 77 per cent of boys. Altogether more than 80 per cent of seven-year-olds achieved at least level 2 in all core subjects.
"This is the first year that we have not had KS1 tests and the results show that standards have not been affected," said Jane Davidson, Welsh Assembly minister for education and lifelong learning. "These excellent results show it was the correct decision for Wales."
Statutory testing for seven-year-olds was discontinued this year in Wales, as proposed by Ms Davidson in her 2001 document The Learning Country. She says that tests at KS1 are unnecessary because they consistently produce the same results as teacher assessment. The money previously invested in testing, she says, might be better used to raise standards across the curriculum.
"The extra time and financial resources will in the long run allow more money to be spent on learning and not on testing," said Gethin Lewis, Welsh secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
The Assembly insists that it has no plans to abolish KS2 tests. But the Welsh unions are campaigning for an end to testing 11-year-olds as well, and many educationists believe that this will be the next step for Ms Davidson. The Assembly has also pledged to cut class sizes.