Tougher tests on way for pupils of all ages

PRIMARY school pupils will be assessed by their teachers at the age of four and face tougher tests aged 11 under reforms announced by Schools Minister David Laws.

The move is part of a package of measures designed to better assess pupils’ progress throughout their school lives that will help them achieve higher standards, Mr Laws said.

Secondary school pupils will have their GCSEs measured on progress they make compared with the results they achieve in the tests at 11. The reforms aim to remove the incentive for schools to focus solely on ensuring as many pupils as possible earn at least a C in order to meet the current five A*-to-C, including English and maths, GCSE target.

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Primary pupils will be assessed by their teacher when they start reception at primary school on basic skills such as counting, picture and letter recognition.

They will then sit more rigorous tests in reading, writing and maths at 11 and schools will be judged on how much progress the pupils have made.

If enough pupils are making reasonable progress from the baseline set by the early assessments, or if 85 per cent of them pass the tests aged 11, the school will not be judged as failing.

The tests aged four will consist of a teacher sitting down with a pupil and testing their ability to count, read the alphabet, and recognise objects or pictures.

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Mr Laws said: “The new system will mean higher standards, no hiding place for under-performing schools and coasting schools, and real credit being given to schools and colleges which may have challenging intakes but which improve their pupils’ performance.

“In primary schools, we are raising the bar to improve standards and introducing a proper measure of progress from when children start school to age 11. We are also asking much more of secondary schools – they will need to ensure they teach a broad range of subjects, with a special focus on English and maths.”