Wilshaw backs tougher key stage 1 tests as pupils 'strike'

Government right to bring in more rigour to primary tests, says chief inspector, as thousands of parents keep their children off school in protest

Richard Vaughan

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The head of Ofsted has waded into the row over key stage 1 Sats by stating that the government “is right” to introduce tougher tests for primary pupils.

Thousands of parents decided to keep their children off school today in protest against the more demanding Year 2 assessments.

The new tests have been heavily criticised for being too difficult, particularly the new spelling, punctuation and grammar assessments, in which six- and seven-year-olds are expected to know what a compound and a suffix is.

But Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has now issued a statement saying he “fully supports” the assessment regime at key stage 1.

Raising standards

“The government is right to introduce greater structure and rigour into the assessment process," he says. "Those who oppose this testing need to consider England’s mediocre position in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development education rankings.

“As I have long argued, children who fall behind in the early years of their education struggle to catch up in later years. If by the age of seven, a child has not mastered the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics, the odds will be stacked against them for the rest of their lives. This is especially the case for poorer children."

Sir Michael added that while testing can sometimes be “stressful” he was “confident that most schools do everything they can to minimise the stress that children experience in preparing for and sitting these tests”.

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition supporting a boycott of Year 2 Sats by teachers. The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign has organised the day of action in protest at children being "over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children's happiness and joy of learning".

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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