Ministers 'should pause primary school tests to allow children to catch up'

A group has urged formal tests for primary school pupils be paused to give them time to catch-up.

A group has urged formal tests for primary school pupils be paused to give them time to catch-up. - Credit: PA

Formal tests for primary school pupils should be paused to help them catch-up amid the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, a campaign group has urged. 

The Government's plans to assess four and five-year-old children in their first few weeks of school from September should be postponed, according to a report from the More Than A Score group.

A survey of parents with children aged four to 11 found only 15pc thought spending time preparing for SATs should be included in a "catch-up" programme for pupils.

More than two in three (67pc) would prefer the programme to include children taking part in activities not available during lockdown - such as group sports, outdoor play and drama, the poll found.

SATs in England's primary schools have been cancelled for a second year in a row.

SATs in England's primary schools have been cancelled for a second year in a row. - Credit: PA

The findings came as SATs in England's primary schools have been cancelled for a second year in a row.


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But the statutory rollout of the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) - a new one-to-one assessment for pupils in reception classes - is due to take place from September, after it was delayed by a year due to Covid-19.

A separate poll of 230 primary school leaders suggests only four per cent think that preparation for SATs and other statutory assessments should be part of a recovery plan for primary schools.

Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union

Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union. - Credit: Archant

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Former local head Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union, said: “With the pressures of SATs lifted, schools will have some space to address the urgent issues of educational recovery.”

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey, said: “Our recovery curriculum aims to focus on supporting children's physical and emotional well-being alongside filling any gaps in their learning due to the pandemic. 

“Children have missed out on so much over the last year: school trips, residentials, visitors in school, leadership roles, sports and the arts, mixing with children outside of their class bubble and supporting younger children. 

Penny Sheppard, headteacher of Queen's Hills Primary School and Nursery. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

Penny Sheppard, headteacher of Queen's Hills Primary School and Nursery. Picture: Sophie Wyllie - Credit: SOPHIE WYLLIE

“All these things help to shape them into a well balanced individual giving them the skills, knowledge and aptitude to thrive at high school.”

More Than A Score spokeswoman Alison Ali said: "Everyone's talking about catch-up and lost learning. We say there's a simple solution for primary schools: don't bring back SATs and the other assessments children have to sit in five out of seven years."

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