26th February 2020

The government are condemning our children to a relentless programme of testing

Nancy Stewart from More Than A Score said:

“The government’s decision to formally test four- and five-year-olds condemns our children to a relentless programme of testing from their very first days in primary school.

“Ministers have refused to listen when heads, teachers and education experts have said that the tests are a waste of time and money. The government is also ignoring parents: almost two-thirds (65%)* oppose testing small children in English and maths when they start school, while 63% agree with educators that testing four-year-olds will not produce reliable answers.

“Some of the strongest opposition to the new tests has come from parents in Yorkshire (74% of respondents oppose the policy), the North East (68% oppose) and the North West (66% oppose). I hope that newly-elected Conservative MPs can now explain a policy which is out-of-step with their constituents’ views.

“Opposition to the tests has come from all quarters. An overwhelming majority of headteachers (86%)** hold negative views about the tests. The British Educational Research Association described them as ‘flawed, unjustified and totally unfit for purpose’, while an open letter to the government signed by over 700 academics and experts condemned the plans as ‘pointless and damaging’.

“Pupils will now face formal government testing in five out of seven primary school years. These tests teach our children nothing; they squeeze the curriculum and force dedicated and inspiring teachers to ‘teach to the test’. Our children should not be carrying the weight of a school’s performance on their shoulders. It’s time to make our children more than a score.”

*All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov plc. Total sample size was 2028 adults with children aged 3 – 13 in state primary education. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 18th November 2019. The survey was carried out online.

** Research conducted by Dr Alice Bradbury, UCL Institute of Education. The survey was compiled and distributed using Opinio software. The link to the online survey was distributed via the NEU and social media, with a specific request for headteachers to respond. It was completed by 297 people, and results here include responses from the 288 respondents who were headteachers or executive headteachers only.


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