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Tested: Truckers and cowboys

The diary of trucker Sharon Brown was required reading for thousands of 11-year-olds sitting the national key stage 2 tests.

Children were tested on their ability to read about her two-day journey delivering tennis balls from Nottingham to Barcelona and answer questions about such things as what Sharon enjoys about her life as a lorry driver.

Unlike that other famous diarist, Bridget Jones, Sharon fails to include updates on her weight, or alcohol and cigarette consumption: although she does detail the chocolate mousse, microwaved soup, steak and chips and Spanish food consumed on her journey.

With both the other two texts on the reading paper being about cowboys, the bias towards boys' interests did not go unnoticed in primaries, where 79 per cent of boys achieved the expected level 4 in reading last year, compared to 87 per cent of girls.

"Is it my imagination or are we a teensy bit skewed towards the male-interest end of the gender spectrum here?," said one teacher on the TES website.

Pupils were asked to read information about how a team of cowboys worked together, and a story about the life of cowboy Bob Lemmons, who rounds up wild mustangs on the plains of Texas.

Questions included filling in a speech bubble on what the other cowboys might have said to Bob when he returned with the horses. Suggestions from teachers on the TES website included: "Wassup Bob, you d'man". (Which, according to the marking scheme, would get one mark for being an expression of surprise, congratulations or apology.) Opinions on the website about the reading paper varied from "deadly boring" to "mine enjoyed the texts - strange bunch!"

Chris Davis, head of Queniborough primary, Leicestershire, and chair of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, said: "We were very happy with the tests this year. There has been nothing glaringly problematic and we are quietly confident."

However, 50 schools in Hertfordshire discovered they had the wrong writing test during the examination. Although labelled on the cover as the longer writing task, the packs in fact contained the shorter one.

Alison Peacock, head of Wroxham school in Potters Bar, said: "It was just horrendous."

Wroxham was allowed to photocopy test papers from a neighbouring school and used those for its 26 Year 6 children.

A National Assessment Agency spokeswoman said it would reimburse all photocopying costs and any other relevant expenditure.

KS2 maths questions

1. Circle the numbers that add up to 100: 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

2. Sapna makes a fruit salad using bananas, oranges and apples. For every one banana, she uses two oranges and three apples. Sapna uses 24 fruits.

How many oranges does she use?

ANSWERS 1. 64, 32, 4

2. Eight

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