Primary Sats debate and a question of accountability

15th May 2009 at 01:00

The recommendation of the experts group commissioned by the Government that primary pupils continue to take key stage 2 Sats is to be welcomed ("Primary Sats to stay but league tables could go," May 8). The NAHT and NUT have suggested scrapping them and instead have either the standards pupils reach at 11 measured through sampling or internally, with the results passed on to secondary colleagues.

But sampling is just not good enough. Secondary schools must have baseline assessments to calculate the value they add to children's lives. Internal teacher marking has improved as assessment arrangements are now more secure at primary level. However, there is still much to be desired, with questionable judgments being made in a number of primary schools - as Ofsted has found.

The unions argue, quite rightly, that more reliance should be placed on professional judgments. They add that the last year of children's education is warped by too much emphasis on preparing for tests.

Is there an elephant in the room? Maybe it has something to do with accountability, over which there is not a little discomfort?

David Sassoon, Director, Schools Support Services Ltd, Finchley, London.

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