Primary schools are to be given an additional Pounds 3 million to provide extra training for thousands of teachers in how to assess the achievements of 11-year-olds.
The new money, announced at the conference by Gillian Shephard, will provide half a day's training for all year 6 teachers.
It pre-empts a report to be published next week by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority on the first full year of tests at seven, 11 and 14. This is expected to conclude that, while the tests went smoothly at each key stage, teachers at KS2 need more support with their assessments.
The extra funding has been cautiously welcomed by primary headteachers. But they say more is needed. Roger Hewins, a primary head in Leicestershire and vice-president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that, unlike key stage 1, where considerable effort was taken over several years, testing and assessment for 11-year-olds had been rushed through with inadequate resources.
The expected conclusion by SCAA that the first full year of tests was a success is likely to be contested by teachers. There have been widespread reports of schools sending back written tests for re-marking, raising concern about the quality of external marking.
Two other new grants have been announced by education ministers in the Grants for Educational Support and Training programme, under which 40 per cent of funding comes from local education authorities.
A total of Pounds 3 million is to be provided to fund new projects to help schools and LEAs tackle pupil behaviour problems. A Pounds 1.2 million grant will fund primary school improvement initiatives.
Altogether, the Government will spend Pounds 264 million on specific grants through GEST in 1996-7. Most of the projects, including Pounds 132 million to boost school effectiveness, are already operating.