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Science pupils rue death of Sats

Primary pupils in England are concerned that dropping science Sats could mean less of the subject in schools.

A survey published by the Wellcome Trust found that Year 6 and Year 7 pupils think being assessed in science is important, although they are not sure that Sats are the best way to do it.

The science Sats were abolished in England this year, with only a sample of schools carrying them out to give a national picture of standards. In Wales, all Sats were abolished in 2004.

The proportion of children reaching level 4 in science dropped to 81 per cent under the sampling system from 88 per cent in 2009.

Researchers asked 1,000 children and their parents in England and Wales about the changes to science assessment shortly after the changes were announced last year.

The report, led by Colette Murphy of Queen's University Belfast, found that nine out of ten children in England enjoyed science, as did 85 per cent in Wales.

Most could see the point of science assessment but were not keen on the amount of revision they did for the Sats.

Only one in ten said that doing practice Sats papers was a good way of finding out how much they knew.

Asked if they thought the science Sats should have been abolished, 56 per cent of the pupils in England said no; 26 per cent agreed with the move and 18 per cent said they were unsure.

Children said they were concerned that without Sats they would not learn as much in science, they would not know which level they had attained and that they would not be as well prepared for secondary school.

When asked what would be the best way to assess their learning in science, end-of-topic (rather than end-of-key-stage) tests and presentations of their projects were the two favoured methods.

Dr Murphy said: "Pupils were forming their own views, not just repeating what their teachers had told them.

"The pupils were saying that science was important and if it wasn't to be formally tested, it would have less importance in schools.

"They were making those links themselves between the subjects that are being tested and their level of importance in school."

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