End national tests, say parents

6th February 2009 at 00:00
NAHT survey reveals most want to replace Sats and league tables with teacher assessment

Most parents want league tables and national testing scrapped and replaced by teacher assessment, according to research released today.

The result of the National Association of Head Teachers' survey is a major blow to the Government's argument that national tests in primaries should be kept because parents need them to choose schools and follow their children's progress.

The news comes as Sir Tim Brighouse, a member of the government- commissioned panel looking at the future of assessment, told The TES: "We need to get a system where teachers are more trusted in their analysis of pupil progress."

His comments will give hope to the many educationists and parents who believe teacher assessments rather than external national tests should be used to track pupils' progress.

The NAHT poll of 10,465 parents found that 85 per cent thought the current system of testing should be abolished.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the heads' union, said: "This shows overwhelmingly that these parents clearly want to see change to the system.

"It should be taken notice of. If the Government doubts the veracity of our database, we would be very happy to see them go out and do the research themselves."

The results were released to The TES as the NAHT and another union, the NUT, stepped up their campaign for a complete end to testing following the Government's announcement in October of an immediate end to compulsory Sats for 14-year-olds.

Sir Tim is due to speak at a conference on assessment being held by the two unions on Wednesday.

He will say it is vital to look at how the testing system could be changed to ensure it is not distorted by its various disparate purposes.

Christine Merrell, from Durham University's Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, will call for separate systems to be set up to monitor pupil progress and school standards.

Christine Blower, the NUT's acting general secretary, said: "This ought to be the last year of the Sats. There is a tide of opinion among teachers, parents and experts saying that key stage 2 testing should go."

In the survey, only one in 10 thought the current system was a good way to use education funding. More than 71 per cent wanted to see league tables abolished, and more than 81 per cent thought national sampling should replace the tests as a way of tracking standards.

In 2006, a National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations survey found that half of parents made no use of league tables.

But Jim Knight, the schools minister, said: "We take research seriously, but are not convinced that this self-selecting survey is properly reflective of the views of parents."

He said government research showed that 87 per cent of a representative sample of parents backed tests as "one important indication of their child's school performance" and said individual school test performances should be published.

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