Feeds

Science tests for 11-year-olds to be scrapped

Corduroys would prefer no tests or league tables at all

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The government has agreed to scrap national science tests for 11-year-olds. However, teaching unions still plan a boycott of the remaining tests in English and Maths, saying that these make primary school teaching "narrow". The teachers also object to the revelation of schools' test results in public league tables.

The BBC reports that ministers have agreed to the recommendations of a new expert assessment to be published on Thursday, saying that English and Maths testing should continue but that Science exams should be phased out in favour of assessment by teachers. There would, however, be some random national tests as a check on quality.

Mick Brookes, speaking for teaching unions the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said that the plans did not go far enough and that all the test subjects should be dropped. This would naturally render school "league tables", which rank schools by the exam results they achieve, irrelevant. Teachers have long been opposed to the publication of the tables, saying that they are unfair as they take no account of external factors beyond the control of teachers, such as the presence of deprived neighbourhoods etc.

Brookes, however, said that the primary objection to the tests was that it meant teachers had to "teach to the test", which meant in practice they taught little else but reading, writing, science and 'rithmetic towards the end of primary school. He suggested that removing science but leaving maths and English would simply mean teachers spending all their time on the "three Rs".

"Clearly if you take out the bits being tested, you are going to narrow the curriculum even more," he told the Beeb.

Brookes said that NUT and NAHT plans to ballot members on a boycott of all exams this year would go ahead. For its part, the government warned teachers that they would be breaking the law if they chose not to administer the tests.

It's also expected that this week's expert report will recommend the grading of schools by pupil behaviour and wellbeing, as well as by exam results, in a system of "report cards". It isn't clear whether ministers plan to present this information to the public alongside league tables.

An earlier report, the Rose report, recommended replacement of science for 11-year-olds with an emphasis on information communication technology (ICT).

The Tories said they were in favour of tests in principle, but would consider any government plans carefully. The Lib Dems said they would scrap the science tests and perhaps use more teacher self-assessment in English too, but keep Maths testing. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.