Tory education plans ‘half-baked’

By Ian Dunt

Labour has branded Tory plans to scrap primary school tests as “half-baked” as the parties trade blows over education in Britain.

The Standard Assessment Tests are taken by 600,000 children at the end of primary school every year. The Tories want the English and maths Sats replaced with new tests at the beginning of primary school.

“The current system of testing leads to duplication, risks too much teaching to the test and isn’t as useful for the later education of children, nor as rigorous at holding primary schools to account as it should be,” shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove said.

“One of the biggest concerns is the idea of teaching to the test. If the test is taken after the child has left the school you can’t coach them in the same way, so the incentive for primary schools is to ensure children are given a more rounded education.”

But his Labour counterpart Ed Balls said scrapping the tests would reduce parent choice.

“He not only wants to slash spending but end accountability – taking us back to the days when local schools were not only starved of funding but parents had no idea how they were performing,” he told the Guardian.

The marking regime collapsed spectacularly last year, leading Mr Balls to end tests for 14-year-olds and science tests at 11.

A white paper due in the next fortnight looks set to introduce annual report cards for every school, documenting its academic, pastoral and sporting accomplishments

But the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are both firmly against the testing regime, putting the Conservatives in good company.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “We think there is quite a lot of merit in this proposal from Michael Gove. We agree it would free up year six to be a proper year of teaching.”