Sats: MPs launch inquiry after upheaval of this year's tougher tests

23rd September 2016 at 00:02
primary children
Commons education committee calls for views on whether the current primary assessment system is working

MPs are to investigate how this year's new tougher Sats tests have affected primary schools.

This was the first year that ten and 11-year-olds took the new tougher tests in reading, maths and spelling, grammar and punctuation. Pupils were also assessed in writing by their teachers according to a new controversial national framework.

Now the Commons Education Committee has launched an inquiry into primary assessment – looking at the implementation of the new system, its impact on teaching and learning schools and the wider issue of what primary assessment is for.

“This summer saw the introduction of arguably the biggest reforms in primary assessment since external assessment was introduced 25 years ago,” said Neil Carmichael, chair of the committee. “In this inquiry we want to look at the impact of the new national curriculum assessment (Sats) and how the current system affects teaching and learning."

Just 53 per cent of ten and 11-year-olds reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths this year.

The introduction of the new Sats, taken by more than 500,000 pupils, has been described as “chaotic” by unions. The NAHT, ATL and NUT have said that urgent changes are needed or they will consider a boycott in 2017. 

The government has already put on hold plans to introduce multiplication tables tests next year and has said that proposed Year 7 resits will not begin in this academic year.

The committee inquiry will look into what should happen now the reforms have been made.

Other areas to be covered are:

  • The purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this;
  • The advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school;
  • How the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning;
  • Logistics and delivery of the SATs;
  • Training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems;

"News of Sats boycotts in certain parts of the country and data showing almost half of pupils in England failed to meet the new tough standards in reading, writing and maths point to unresolved issues in the way we prepare our children for secondary school and help them reach their potential," Mr Carmichael said.

The deadline for written evidence is Friday 28 October. The public evidence sessions for this inquiry are due to begin in November.

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