Testing for primary pupils at 5 and ranking at 11 - what do you think?

(233 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Jul-13 10:26:40

The Deputy PM Nick Clegg has today unveiled a set of proposals around testing for primary school children.

Under the proposals, pupils aged 11 - who are already tested under the SATs - will be divided by their results into "ability bands" of 10%, and that information will be shared with parents, so that they can see how their children rank nationally.

Clegg also announced that he'll be launching a consultation on whether or not to bring in a "baseline" test at the start of the Reception year in order to establish where children are, and whether they need additional support.

However, teachers' unions have already raised objections to the proposals, with the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, saying that "The vast majority of teachers are unhappy with the need to rank students."

What do you reckon? Does more testing - and more grading around the results - benefit children (and schools)? Or do we risk a return to the days of labelling children as successes and failures before they've hit their teens?

Madsometimes Wed 17-Jul-13 10:38:55

In my area children are already put into ability bands on the basis of their Y5 QCA tests. They are subdivided into 5 bands of 20%, and secondary schools use this to ensure that they have a fully comprehensive intake.

I know there will be a lot of opposition to this, but it does already go on.

Feenie Wed 17-Jul-13 11:00:09

Good luck, secondaries, in motivating a child told they are in the bottom 10% nationally.

Bastards. sad

DelayedActionMouseMaker Wed 17-Jul-13 11:33:34

Totally against any grading system for children of this age. Stop wasting miney fucking around with the system, invest the money in more teachers and then they'll be able to give every child the input they need to reach their full potential.
I hate the education system for trying to box our kids so early, for making the curriculum so ridged teachers haven't space for creative teaching, and for making kids feel all washed up at 18 if they are not academic.

DelayedActionMouseMaker Wed 17-Jul-13 11:34:22

Money. [hmmm]

LilyBolero Wed 17-Jul-13 11:41:06

It is stupid. Standards absolutely can't be 'brought up' by banding children like this, because it is a closed system. There will always be a 'bottom 10%' no matter where the cohort lies.

There is absolutely no point in saying 'this child is in the bottom 10%' - what will a parent do with that data? It's testing for the sake of testing, and it's testing instead of teaching.

Children all develop at different rates, and at the end of Y6, you have some children who are nearly 12, and others who are still 10. Will this be factored in at all? And if not, what is the point of comparing someone who is 10 to someone nearly a year older?

TEACH the children, let the teachers TEACH and STOP TESTING.

ouryve Wed 17-Jul-13 11:44:37

I don't need anything than that to know that DS1 is in the top 10% (probably 5%) and that DS2, in year 2, isn't just in the bottom 10%, but is in the bottom 1% and in year 2, is barely accessing the KS1 curriculum. I certainly don't need anyone to officially rub that one in, thankyou.

What is this intended to achieve, other than more hothousing and pressure for those not quite reaching the top 10%, in certain circles, and despondency for all those children who are average or below?

ouryve Wed 17-Jul-13 11:46:30

anything like that blush

Pyrrah Wed 17-Jul-13 12:03:21

Sounds a terrible idea to me.

I know governments like things nicely boxed and pigeonholed, but doing this to children whose self-esteems can be damaged by things like this is just wrong.

I can see the point of the 3 bands - higher, middle and lower achievers - as that is useful to see if schools are failing one of the groups (there are schools round here who are brilliant at helping struggling pupils and basically ignore the higher achievers because they're doing well enough, and vice versa). Plus children can easily move between bands.

I'm pro GS and selective education, but trying to put children into narrow 10% bands is just awful. Will just add to competitive parent syndrome and cause headaches for the staff when CS Lewis-reading Hugo's mummy demands to know why Enid Blyton-reading Joshua is in the top 10% and Hugo is two bands lower.

Even worse for the poor children who are at the bottom end.

How are they planning to band them anyway? Is SEN taken into account? Is it all based on a verbal reasoning score, or on SATs?

Pyrrah Wed 17-Jul-13 12:13:20

Okay, so they're doing the banding based on SATs.

Some schools don't even do L6 or L7, so how can it really work?

janeyjampot Wed 17-Jul-13 12:29:25

Surely a lot of the success of children at this point is due to the school. I would think that the variation due to the different quality of education received at this point would be too great to make the results worthwhile.

I also think that this variation exacerbates the attainment and poverty gap, so compounding that situation with this new emphasis doubly disadvantages children who have the least opportunity to improve their social mobility.

poppydoppy Wed 17-Jul-13 12:46:09

This will just promote tutoring to the under 5s

JakeBullet Wed 17-Jul-13 12:48:31

I left school with no qualifications whatsoever having been written off as "not very academic". In fat I was just a later bloomer who was Dyspraxic, I now have a degree. Testing is all very well but it won't tell you anything about a child academically in many cases (not all cases...some are academic from the word go and stay that way). Children should not be written off at a young age though.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 17-Jul-13 12:52:22

So, at 11, we're banding children according to where they are nationally.
At 16, they take final exams in which it's harder to do well.
Then some do technical/vocational exams, and some do traditional A levels.

Where could this be going? Free schools and academies allowed to 'cater for' (ie select for) particular bands (ie., the top bands) to provide education tailored to their particular needs (ie., exclude those who didn't do well at 11). I would not be surprised.

tabbycat7 Wed 17-Jul-13 13:06:12

Testing does not make children brighter. All children will fall somewhere on the scale. Even if the gap between the highest achieving children and the lowest shrinks, there will still be a bottom 10%. I really can't see how this will "raise standards" when children are going to be labelled like this at 11. Its only a few steps from seating children with the "top" ones at the front and the lowest achievers in the corner with hats on with a D on [ angry]. Aren't our children the unhappiest in Europe? They're going to get a whole lot unhappier.

I'm so wound up about the other proposed changes as well I'm considering pulling my children out of school. It's totally a step in the wrong direction.

Robotindisguise Wed 17-Jul-13 13:09:00

Oh god - on behalf of summer-borns everywhere - just don't do this. "Needs more support" is just a euphemism for "is at the bottom". My DD is actually very bright for her age - but as a late August-born - naturally she can't do everything the September-borns can. These differences become less apparent by the age of 7 or so - just don't pigeonhole them before that!

Taffeta Wed 17-Jul-13 13:24:42

What tabbycat7 said.

This bloody government seems to be determined to put education policy back in the dark ages, where a child's self esteem is immaterial. angry

SingySongy Wed 17-Jul-13 13:44:28

For the children in the middle bands (ie. 30-70 %)there won't be a huge difference... That's how a bell curve of ability works. But there would be a huge psychological difference between being told you're in group 3 as opposed to 7. And it's still not likely to improve a school's ability to support the bottom 10% or the top 10%. There will be wide differentiation between those at the tops of these bands and the bottom. Sounds like an awful idea to me.

neolara Wed 17-Jul-13 13:55:25

I can't begin to tell you how awful I think this is as an idea. I say this as an educational psychologist and Chair of Govs of a primary school. I think others have made most of the salient points above. It genuinely made me want to cry today when I heard about it on the Today program.

CorrieDale Wed 17-Jul-13 14:01:28

So upset about this! Poor bloody children. Labelled so firmly at 11. Or in my children's case, 10!

I am so sick of seeing learning to the test. I pity the poor teachers having to deal with this shit day in day out.

CorrieDale Wed 17-Jul-13 14:02:18

Me too neolara. I feel pretty sick about it. League tables for 11yo FFS!!!

domesticslattern Wed 17-Jul-13 14:11:47

But it's not five year olds is it, if it's when they are starting school? It's four year olds isn't it? Sounds even worse...
You only have to look at this recent thread in primary education to see the confusion and upset caused by the seemingly incomprehensible EYFS scores at the end of reception. Posters also sensibly point out that teachers all assess their shiny new reception pupils informally at the start of the year, and throughout tbh. Why not trust these teachers in their judgements? Why reduce everything to a national tick box exercise?
Oh, I know, maybe it's so that parents can choose schools based on "progress made" by the children. smile Like there is any choice in primary schools at all- see MN thread after MN thread. This new idea is a distraction from the greater problem of school places supply. Oh, and the fact that in my area, the capital funding for DD's school was slashed so much that the school fair money has to go on basic building maintenance. I think the Government has to sort its priorities out, and I don't think formal tests for kiddies who are still learning to do up their own zips and wipe their own bums is a priority.

Minifingers Wed 17-Jul-13 14:26:22

I will not allow my children to sit any test at 11 which ranks them nationally.

I just won't.

I'm not having them labelled in this way. Their teachers know their strengths and weaknesses and will tell me, and tell me how I can help them. That's enough for me.

nameuschangeus Wed 17-Jul-13 14:52:33

God forbid that the government thinks of children as little individual people all with something to give. Oh no, they are stats and numbers and scores and data. This is like a return to the dark ages. Absolutely makes me wonder if they have ever actually met a child.

Pozzled Wed 17-Jul-13 14:52:38

It's an atrocious idea for all the reasons listed above. Informal, ongoing assessment is vital as part of teaching, but we do NOT need more formal tests. Any teacher could rattle off information about which kids in their class need to work on their number bonds, which need to use full stops more consistently etc.

Formal testing at 4 (and it will be 4, not 5 if it's the start of reception) will tell us nothing extra. It will just serve to make teachers, parents and children more unhappy and stressed.

Grading children into 10% bands will de damaging for all. Even if my kids are in the top 10%, I don't want them to know that thank you very much.

Whatever happened to Every Child Matters, and seeing individuals for their own unique talents and qualities?

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