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?

BornToFolk Wed 17-Jul-13 14:56:43

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

This. Stop all the testing, let the teachers teach and the children learn.

Children are already assessed on their progress. Reception children do not need formal testing and banding yr6s is a disgrace.

How is any of this supposed to raise standards?

Claudiecat Wed 17-Jul-13 15:13:56

Once again it proves the point that the government has no idea what is going on in schools.

Arcticspill Wed 17-Jul-13 15:31:29

Are we going to be trying to test ability or achievement? Because they aren't the same thing. And what for? It adds pressure to the top half and is de motivating for the bottom half

merrymouse Wed 17-Jul-13 15:38:06

Just why?

We already have tests

How are these any better/different?

Where on earth would they find the money to implement this?

CorrieDale Wed 17-Jul-13 15:47:25

Minifingers I like your style. Do you know, I really hadn't thought of just opting out!

wintersdawn Wed 17-Jul-13 15:49:05

it's an awful idea made by people with no concept of reality. I had such hopes for this government when they first got in and all they seem to do is fail at every turn.
I truly dread what education my two will receive when they start in the coming years. home schooling is sounding more and more interesting.

I think you'll just find a lot of 10/11 year old children have the flu during the tests. I certainly won't be sending DS2 to be ranked. And I wouldn't care if they fined me either.

It's an unbelievably terrible idea.

Pozzled Wed 17-Jul-13 16:03:39

If they try and bring this in, I think Mumsnet should organise a mass boycott- children all over the country should have 'flu' during the whole of SATs week.

Teachers can strike over tests, why shouldn't children and parents?


georgedawes Wed 17-Jul-13 16:08:39

Awful idea and I think if they do try and introduce it a mumsnet campaign against it would be much welcomed.

Worriedmind Wed 17-Jul-13 16:14:57

I am concerned and baffled by its objectives.

Clegg said on the news that it was to help the 40% of children in each class that left primary not ready to learn, mix with others or behave at secondary school.

How will ranking 11 years olds at the later end of the year when they are about to leave help with that?

I also do not like his insinuation that low achievement equals bad behaviour. From my experience in schools some of the worst behaved would have been in the top 10.

The current testing already tells me that my child is underachieving because she has learning difficulties.

I worry this kind of testing will allow schools to pick and chose or write off pupils based on ranking.

I also worry that prejudgement of a child being non academic at 11 is very early. For some children it just clicks later. My father did terribly at primary but at secondary he found teaching methods that suited him and came out top of the school.

BalloonSlayer Wed 17-Jul-13 16:18:39

Not sure I like the sound of this but other countries do similar things.

In Australia when they do the HSC (like our A levels - ok yes I know these children are much older) the results are totally to do with where you are compared to everyone else. There are no standalone marks - just your ranking. So if you get 80 for your HSC, then 79% of people did worse than you, and 20% of people did better than you. To get into a University, each year the boundary is moved. It doesn't seem to bother anyone, it's just how it is.

Morebiscuitsplease Wed 17-Jul-13 16:19:00

Hear hear GeorgeDawes. How does this help children? I really can't see how it can? As a parent I don't care how other children are doing I care about mine. I would be dead against my child being given such scores. More data does not raise standards, good teaching and more resources. Am seriously appalled by this idea. [ angry ]

Worriedmind Wed 17-Jul-13 16:20:21

Would definitely back a campaign.

School already know my child's strength and weaknesses.
She already has very low self esteem from the frustration of being verbally bright but her sen stopping her transferring this to paper. The other children know and share their scores already.

But my biggest concern is a secondary school receiving a child at 11 in the bottom 10%. Is that going to encourage them to push that child harder or will it simply be seen as a lost cause.

MrsVamos Wed 17-Jul-13 16:40:40

Bloody ridiculous.

Children are not robots, nor should they begin their lives as statistics or as numbers in statistics.

The more I hear about what's happening in education, the more happier I feel that I took mine out of school. And all the people who looked down their noses at me, and told me I was mad, now tell me how right I was.

What I actually want to know is how my son is actually doing in relation to himself. Is he 'achieving his potential' (a vomitous phrase if there ever was one)? How does he learn and what could help him to learn more effectively? That sort of thing.

It doesn't matter if he's the brightest child in the country, on the 47th percentile or the 3rd percentile. I don't actually care about how he's doing in relation to everyone else's children (or even in relation to 'national expectations' as they do it now). He is a person and my child and I care about whether he is doing as well as he can. Nothing more. I'd imagine many parents think similarly.

I think the government have looked over at Japan and thought, 'oh let's see if we can stress our children out as much as that'.

Worriedmind Wed 17-Jul-13 16:44:53

When is this meant to be coming in by the way?

EauRouge Wed 17-Jul-13 16:51:08

The more I hear about changes like this, the more certain I am that we made the right decision to home educate.

tabbycat7 Wed 17-Jul-13 16:57:36

I think maybe a lot of politicians went to schools where children were ranked and their parents cared about wherr they were in relation to everyone else, so they've decided that us ordinary folk care too <sceptical >

Worriedmind Wed 17-Jul-13 16:57:59

Its making me seriously consider InterHigh tbh,

vess Wed 17-Jul-13 17:40:33

Waste of time and money IMO. It's only a proposal and, chances are, it probably won't get anywhere.

Educational success has a lot more to do with motivation and hard work than with 'ability bands'.

prettybird Wed 17-Jul-13 18:06:02

With Gove's mathematical prowess, I am sure he'll be expecting all pupils to be ranked in the top 50% and will penalise those schools that fail to achieve this. hmmconfused

domesticslattern Wed 17-Jul-13 18:21:38

Tabbycat you are so right. I hadn't thought of that. Every report from my brother's posh public school listed his position in the class for each subject. (Usually near the bottom but we won't go into that!). You are right that politicians are digging into their (limited) experience of schools.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 17-Jul-13 18:26:54

Haven't schools always done this.
I'm an old nut but can remember being tested during infants, end of infants going into junior and end of junior to go to secondary. Then we had tests at end of y3 which is now y9 before O'levels.
They just didn't have fancy names, Ofsted criteria, and stressed out teachers, parents and kids.
It's not the testing its the circus that surrounds it thats the problem.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 17-Jul-13 18:30:02

With Gove's mathematical prowess, I am sure he'll be expecting all pupils to be ranked in the top 50% and will penalise those schools that fail to achieve this.

This. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 17-Jul-13 18:30:50

OK it's not funny. It's very scary. Have we got a scared emoticon?

morethanpotatoprints Wed 17-Jul-13 18:31:25


Ditto, me too. They said we were crazy too, and so many parents are shock that I have no idea what level dd is working at as it really isn't important.

chocolatemartini Wed 17-Jul-13 18:32:13

This is what ALL the research shows we should be doing with primary education. I personally will consider all testing below the age of 14 to be completely irrelevant and often damaging. DH was a very late developer academically and so was I, yet we both ended up with the best degrees possible in our respective professions. At age 5 I was mostly pretending to be a horse and at age 11 I think I was still mostly pretending to be a horse. I didn't know any times tables and couldn't do long or short multiplication when I went to secondary school. DH couldn't read at 7.5. Children need a childhood. They will study when they are ready, especially if inspired by good and passionate teachers. Teachers can't be passionate and iconoclastic as some of mine were if they are constantly processing performance data

chocolatemartini Wed 17-Jul-13 18:33:38

prettybird grin

pointythings Wed 17-Jul-13 18:36:18

This is not going to do anything to improve standards, teachers will simply teach to the test to get borderline children up into the next 10% cohort. It's typical of this government that they don't see this and that they are just replacing one problem with a slightly different one.

And they keep saying how much they admire the education system in Finland - how about blinking emulating it then???

ipadquietly Wed 17-Jul-13 18:36:24

I worry about the millions of pounds that will be wasted spent replacing SIMs.

I worry about the evangelical belief that the poor breed less able children, and the huge amounts of money being spent on the pupil premium.

I worry about the lowest 10% of children deemed to be 'secondary ready'.

I worry about schools being able to set their own assessment criteria leading to a total breakdown of the whole educational system.

I worry about keen young teachers being demoralised and leaving the profession because they don't want to lead massive initiatives, and will never gain UPS.

I worry about teachers coming up to retirement who have legitimately reached UPS through performance, and don't want to take on massive workloads this late in their careers OR take the option to drop to M6.

And I worry about lots more than this...

How I worry.


What can we DO about it?

mymatemax Wed 17-Jul-13 18:42:25

bloody mental, kids aren't machines. There are peaks & troughs in their life & in their learning.
How demotivating to be assessed & pigeonholed at such a young age.
There is enough testing already ffs, LEAVE OUR KIDS ALONE!

Dackyduddles Wed 17-Jul-13 18:44:31

I would prefer assuming any kind of testing required in any way that maybe teachers were themselves tested performance wise by practical tests (exams/visual performance/) than any kind of additional tests being introduced for kids.

Kids seem to be being used as indicators of teacher performance. I just don't think that's worthwhile. Or if so are we going to end up paying performance bonus/salaries based on 28 out of 30 kids hitting band A etc?

There's just better ways to assess children's understanding and better ways of assessing teacher suitability and ability than these suggested methods.

mymatemax Wed 17-Jul-13 18:44:48

I recently sat in a meeting about SATS, not one person in the room, LEA, Teachers, parent had any belief in the value of SATS, the benefit of them or even the relevance of the data they produce.
But we all wasted an hour of our life playing the game, its SHIT!

Dackyduddles Wed 17-Jul-13 18:45:48

Teaching shouldn't be measured by private company style methods and I think this banding will move things that way/is the idea.

mymatemax Wed 17-Jul-13 18:47:34

Why not invest all the money spent in the endless testing & bollocks that goes along with it & spend it on schools, teachers, training & the kids.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 17-Jul-13 18:49:16

How about we test these bloody politicians on their performances? One indicator would be how many promises they've broken. angry

sisterbaby Wed 17-Jul-13 18:57:22

You cannot meaningfully test five year olds, as children at that age all develop at very different rates. Remember that in many other countries, including Finland which tops the world education rankings, children don't even start formal education and learning to read until they are 7 years' old. As for ranking 11 year olds, this was a common practice in primary schools up to the 1950s, when it was rightly discontinued. Children already have a sense of where they are in the academic pecking order without the humiliation of being formally told. And knowing that you are top dog in your primary school becomes totally meaningless when a child starts secondary and becomes a small fish in a big pond. Yet another pointless, headline grabbing policy from Gove and his mates.

feedmewotsits Wed 17-Jul-13 19:03:21

I'm an former teacher currently 12 weeks pregnant with DC1.

As someone who seen the system from inside the classroom, I can categorically say that no child of mine will ever sit a SATS exam. I will remove them from school the week of the tests. SATS have nothing to do with quality education and everything to do with the Government trying to create positive spin and prove how 'brilliantly' they are doing. It's bollocks.

mymatemax Wed 17-Jul-13 19:09:39

feedmewotsits, I completely agree. My eldest did sit the SATS, It didn't bother him, caused him no stress, he is very able & quite likes a test.
My youngest is disabled has a statement & testing causes him a great deal of anxiety, his school are still keen to support him through tests, I think he may have a horrid bug that week.

SuiGeneris Wed 17-Jul-13 19:12:10

It will be useful, I think, to understand where a child is at Reception to see if any additional help is needed and comparing the result with year 6 will help with working out value added (which is perhaps why some are opposed?). Would v much like to see this as a national test for all, including children in private schools. But I realise I am v much in the minority.

squeezedatbothends Wed 17-Jul-13 19:16:45

I will not be taking my child to school on the day of SATs - won't be party to this hideous labelling exercise. All he needs to know is what he is doing well and what he needs to do to improve. Not some rank ordering. It's a disgrace and I'd encourage all parents to boycott the test. That'll confound 'em! (And secondaries don't trust SAts data anyway - they do their own baseline tests).

Dackyduddles Wed 17-Jul-13 19:18:53

Very much agree with UPTOAPOINT

morethanpotatoprints Wed 17-Jul-13 19:47:27

If you take them out for the week though, they only do it when they go back, apparently. I heard some schools send EWO round to check dc are ill.
It is wrong that schools and teachers have the brunt of the responsibility where Ofsted are concerned if dc miss SATS.
I don't blame parents though, my dd won't be doing them either.
I think with the mess Gove is making of the education system, children as well as teachers will be leaving in their droves. There are many sahps who could manage H.ed quite easily.

squeezedatbothends Wed 17-Jul-13 19:58:45

Even the whiff of an organised parent SATs boycott would cause a media storm. Would be worth trying I think.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 17-Jul-13 20:07:37

Awful awful awful idea sad

muminlondon Wed 17-Jul-13 20:09:56

1. Ranking pupils at 11 is a terrible idea and I agree with all those who say we should boycott the tests.
2. The only people who will appreciate this are those parents whose children are in the top 10%. For those in the bottom 50% it is cruel, pointless, demoralising and and demotivating.
3. There is already a massive amount of information and hoops to jump for schools to track progress - extend this to parents and even if the school did a fantastic job in supporting their child, 90% are guaranteed to feel cheated, unhappy or resentful and yet have no control over the situation (a bit like forced academies against the wishes of parents...).
4. It will accelerate the expansion of the unregulated tutoring industry.
5. It discriminates against state school pupils - even those hothoused in prep schools are only compared against their classmates not the whole ruddy country.
6. Testing at 5 is pointless and stressful and the margin for error is enormous.
7. The LibDems are a bunch of elitist hypocrites for supporting a norm-referenced system of testing while claiming to support comprehensive 'inclusive' schooling. It is a short step from here to reintroduction of grammars and, to fit in with school admissions, bringing in testing in the Christmas term (a 10+). Again, great for the top 10% but shite for the rest.

lljkk Wed 17-Jul-13 20:11:10

I really don't like it, was glad to figure out that only my youngest would be affected. He's rather ordinary but I don't like it being made an issue of, which is how I would feel about it if his results were expressed as a percentile. Just Not Helpful.

Hamishbear Wed 17-Jul-13 20:11:30

Re: tests etc: whether we like it or not our children will be judged & benchmarked by tests/exams whether it's at 11, 16 or 18. I don't know about most children but mine are completely freaked out by tests. They worry that their talent is being judged, they worry they will fall short, they stress and usually falter and stumble when they find a question they can't do rather than ignoring it and moving on to the next.

I've worked in Preps and know many well. In contrast when it comes to tests, it's absolute water off a ducks back. It's no big deal, the children know what to do when stumped by a question, it's cool and tests happen thrice weekly in some cases.

Controversially I think children should be exposed to more testing because so many of them are at a disadvantage and in my experience it takes YEARS to get that 'water of duck's back' attitude ingrained which is second nature to the most fortunate and privileged.

So if we want them to understand that it isn't a good idea to spend far too long on one question at GCSE and not have a melt down, heart attack & under performing in public exams I think there's a place for making increased testing part of the routine. The caveat being it's no big deal and you will only get better if you try whatever your starting point.

mollythetortoise Wed 17-Jul-13 20:21:13

Terrible idea and I would also boycott

mollythetortoise Wed 17-Jul-13 20:21:23

Terrible idea and I would also boycott

lljkk Wed 17-Jul-13 20:22:21

Kids in state primary are tested quite a bit, too, ime. At least once a term from end of y2. Certainly the y6 SATs were just more of the same in my mind.
But that doesn't mean I want a national ranking system, either.

Hamishbear Wed 17-Jul-13 20:30:23

Children in state primary in Y5 or Y6 don't do thrice weekly tests routinely to time as far as I know? Many Preps do. If you are tested enough it is all a walk in the park after a while and just part of what goes on rather than any gauge of your ability or talent.

muminlondon Wed 17-Jul-13 20:44:49

But Hamishbear, most children in prep schools are already ahead at five years old - they have wealthy, supportive parents and/or carers who have spent a lot of time on reading etc. and bought all the books/tuition/baby classes. No families on FSM and fewer with SEN or learning difficulties, and they would be in the top 10% IF they did SATS and then were ranked - which they don't.

It's really not difficult even now to know where your child is likely to be nationally if they are getting level 4b or 5a etc. and statistics showing how many achieve that in the cohort are published. The information is there already, the testing is already there, but this rams failure down your gullet.

The LibDems rejected norm-referenced GCSEs - so why propose ranking children at 11? David Laws does not have a clue about state education or children.

Worriedmind Wed 17-Jul-13 20:47:26

Can I ask if a child is Ill in year 6 sats can they take them when they return...

Hamishbear Wed 17-Jul-13 20:53:07

You're right Mum in London. Most seem to be very bemused by the system as it is though.

muminlondon Wed 17-Jul-13 20:57:49

Re thrice weekly tests Y5/Y6 - IME they are doing at least twice weekly tests if you count regular dictation/spelling/maths tests, etc. The rest of the time they are enjoying learning, discussing, collaborating, reading, thinking, questioning, creating.

Hamishbear Wed 17-Jul-13 21:04:32

Hi muminlondon do you mean at Preps (generally) or state schools?

Our outstanding primary does not believe in testing children. It's incredibly creative and my children love it. The school does not believe in testing, they do not believe in spelling tests etc. They do a few Maths quizzes but by Y6 are not used to working to time for example in any capacity.

Speaking personally mine are totally freaked out by tests when they face them. Grammar prep is frowned upon and we are told just a couple of practice VR sessions are all that's needed and if not the child isn't bright enough. They are brilliant at collaborating and very articulate as are their peers.

Contrast to the Preps I know where tests to time are rattled off from Y3 and everyone knows the drill and it's all seen as a breeze.

Alan123 Wed 17-Jul-13 21:06:23

Totally against it. Clegg might learn a thing or two from Finland.

Hamishbear Wed 17-Jul-13 21:09:15

Finland has an entirely different society from ours with different values and cultural norms so comparing the two is meaningless.

Alan123 Wed 17-Jul-13 21:24:52


Although the article does not specifically relate to primary education, much can be inferred.

cornflakegirl Wed 17-Jul-13 21:28:14

I agree with others that I can't see any benefit to telling parents where their child is ranked nationally.

I think data is very important to monitor the progress of each child through the school and to identify children who are struggling and teachers who are underperforming. But schools do this. I don't think we need more externally supervised tests. Let schools get on with teaching.

The more I read about the education policies the more seriously I am considering home school or (if we can scrape the money together) private education.

I will not have my 5 year old tested formally, it is absolute bullshit particularly as they have only just changed the EYFS. Surely this should be enough?

I honestly believe that DH and I will be 'those' parents who are writing to the school because our PFB will not be taking part in x y and z.

pointythings Wed 17-Jul-13 22:04:42

This government seems to think that you can fatten a pig by weighing it. You can't.

<disclaimer - I am not in any way comparing any children to pigs. Although pigs are lovely intelligent sociable creatures, of course>

missorinoco Wed 17-Jul-13 22:08:59

Testing at five seems utterly pointless. My 4 year old daughter is a different animal so to speak compared with her brother when he was four. This will just highlight the differences in development at that age.

Kindly reveil the proposals Mr. Clegg and move on to the next thing. Or revamp your plan to save the libraries, this will be far more useful for all our five year olds.

merrymouse Wed 17-Jul-13 22:14:55

I don't think these tests are being introduced to improve pupil's exam technique. Preps specifically prepare children to take common entrance.

I have nothing against teaching children to prepare for exams, but a test at 5 and 11 won't do that.

prettybird Wed 17-Jul-13 22:45:52

Ds only learnt to read at 6.5: he wasn't developmentally ready until then, despite loads of extra support.

Top group in language in P7 (age 11); confirming by Secondary School which "set" English and Maths after a month or so (an "exceptional" class according to his English teacher).

So what exactly would that prove? hmm

Anyway, it's academic anyway, as we're in Scotland so it won't apply to us. grin

Katie172 Wed 17-Jul-13 22:54:41

I can't see this going through..it's another ill thought out idea that has not been researched properly. It's not exactly going to be a vote winner is it? Fwiw I think that this a terrible idea. I have one dc who is, at the moment, in the top 10% and one who is ,at the moment , in the bottom 10%. I can't for the life of me see this utterly crap idea being of benefit to either of them. We are in a very competitive area of SE England and this will only pile the pressure on further. I would feel very concerned for my lower achieving dc if they were told their ranking nationally...how will it benefit the nation to tell so many children that they are, probably through no fault of their own, failures because they are not achieving academically?

Katie172 Wed 17-Jul-13 22:56:07

I can't see this going through..it's another ill thought out idea that has not been researched properly. It's not exactly going to be a vote winner is it? Fwiw I think that this a terrible idea. I have one dc who is, at the moment, in the top 10% and one who is ,at the moment , in the bottom 10%. I can't for the life of me see this utterly crap idea being of benefit to either of them. We are in a very competitive area of SE England and this will only pile the pressure on further. I would feel very concerned for my lower achieving dc if they were told their ranking nationally...how will it benefit the nation to tell so many children that they are, probably through no fault of their own, failures because they are not achieving academically?

sisterbaby Wed 17-Jul-13 23:25:31

On the basis of this and every other pointless, heartless policy that the coalition government is trying to impose on my children and all pupils in state education, I have vowed to leave this country if the Tories get in for another five years in 2015. I don't want my children to have suffer the pressures of constantly being tested, with longer days and fewer holidays, and then at the end they have to pay £9k a year for a university education. Every pronouncement made by Gove, and now his unpopular little 'voice box' Cleggy, makes my blood boil. So, I'm looking for an exit strategy to somewhere which understands that education and testing are NOT the same thing. Not quite sure where yet but Australia and Canada are looking attractive. Or Scotland? Independence must never have looked so sweet. (P.S Thanks Mumsnet for giving us this forum to air our views. Politicians would do well to pay attention to what the mums of Britain are saying. We are 50% of the vote after all!)

EATmum Wed 17-Jul-13 23:32:12

I'm probably wrong, but I seem to remember, back in the mists of time, that SATS were there to check that the school and teachers were helping pupils progress, based on the value added. Not for labelling individual children. That was the line I told my eldest recently who wasn't sleeping earlier this year with worry at the impending tests. I reassured her that it didn't matter, that she could really freak out on the day and it wouldn't matter a bit. That her teachers knew her and her ability or otherwise was much more than an exam paper, it was just an exercise to measure the school. Will clearly need to change this story for her sisters.
Seriously, find me a single teacher that thinks this will help a single child to achieve. Show me any connection between this policy and achievement. The adage of if you want to manage it, measure it works in business - but translating it into this context assumes that all the schools currently haven't given children's achievement much thought, but with this helpful banding will suddenly see the light.

prettybird Wed 17-Jul-13 23:32:39

Actually - we don't even need independence - Scotland has always had a different education system, even before devolution. And it is very definitely a devolved matter! grin

Did I mention we don't have SATs either? wink

muminlondon Thu 18-Jul-13 00:07:00

Hamishbear my DC's experience of state primary. Spelling tests are often marked in pairs (within a couple of ability groups I think), so it doesn't matter if you get it wrong, it's just an opportunity to revise learning of tricky spellings at a pace that's right for the child.

pointythings love the pig saying! The government has cut funding for Surestart, school building, free school meals, child benefit, housing benefit, IT/music/sport in schools and now infant class sizes and schools are getting bigger. And they want to brand the lowest achievers as failures so they can sneer at them patronisingly as befits their station in life, the guttersnipes.


missyPlumcake Thu 18-Jul-13 00:30:26

I am confused as to how the information about national ranking is constructive in achieving anything that isn't already within the system.

Firstly the top 1% nationally get a level 6.

The top 10% get a level 5a

The top 25% get a level 5a, 5b or 5c.

Etc etc - it doesn't take Einstein to work out that the bottom 10% are level 1 or 2 at the end of Year 6.

Basically we are already aware of where our children rank on a national scale so how does making it more official improve anything? It just doesn't.

There is the point that the level 4 is very broad and that less than 50% of those achieving a level 4c at the end of Year 6 will get a GCSE grade C in that subject when the time comes.

Therefore, it makes more sense to do what they're doing and to make it that schools need to get a higher percentage of pupils achieving level 4 and above in both English and Maths. But that doesn't take into account how many children within a school are SEN etc. So from that point of view, I can see why they may want to see where a child is at at age 5 coming into a school in order to make sure that support is in place to ensure the higher percentage levels required of children getting level 4 or above in both English and Maths is achieved by the end of year 6. That way the greatest proportion of children can get their 5 GCSEs grade C and above.

However, I don't understand why so much in our school system is focussed on the academic. OK so all kids should be able to leave school at 16 able to read and write but why are we not geared up that some children are given more options for vocational subjects, apprenticeships, skilled crafts and trades to learn and why are these not valued as highly? Why is it that a degree is now necessary for certain jobs which are largely vocational? It's the one size fits all mentality which feels short-sighted and inflexible and ultimately which fails a proportion of our children.

Ultimately, more pressure on primaries than there is already seems unjustified. Also this pressure to succeed so early seems bonkers too. I got 11 GCSE's grade C and above and wasn't doing algebra in primary. This year secondary school teachers in maths came into my DD's primary school to teach some of the KS3 curriculum to help with preparing for SATS throughout the academic year. Why? Because of government pressure and league tables. Surely it is better to do enrichment activities within the level to cement the learning and enjoyment of it rather than always striving for the next level up so rushing through. I once climbed a very high mountain very fast and didn't enjoy it at all. Yes I got to the top but wish I'd taken it more slowly and enjoyed the view on the way.

The government pressure is wrong and statistics taken by themselves can get out of control and don't take into account the humans behind the numbers. Sometimes better statistics involve changing the game and not sending everyone along the same narrow path.

At the end of the day there are 100% of kids and not all of them are academic. So long as they all can read and write at the end of it and learn how they can best be involved in contributing to our rich society, then we have succeeded. Maybe they're nurses, doctors, lawyers, ambulance drivers, potters, textile designers, carpenters, mechanics, hair dressers, care workers, journalists, social workers etc etc. Not all of these jobs require a high level of academic ability so why make the academic the only mountain to climb?

Sorry for the long post blush

CorrieDale Thu 18-Jul-13 05:12:41

This thread is giving me hope!


Purpleprickles Thu 18-Jul-13 06:40:24

We really need a campaign against these ridiculous proposals. I'm an EYFS coordinator and Reception teacher. Four and five year olds do not need a formal test. This would go against the whole ethos of EYFS and completely contradict everything we know about child development. I cannot believe that less than a year after the EYFS overhaul they are suggesting it becomes non statutory. It makes me furious. Young children learn through play not through tests.

I'm also insulted over the insinuation that teachers don't already assess their children. Of course we do, constantly! But we do this through observations of play so that the children don't know they are being assessed. We then plan next steps for them and support them in meeting these in a non threatening, non pressured and fun way.

This year my reception class are leaving me having made huge progress. Not all are working at expected levels but they have all progressed in terms of their own development and should be proud of their achievements. More importantly they have all shown that they can be resilient and independent in their learning and they are all happy and eager to learn. I whole heartedly believe they feel this because they have had a relaxed and fun environment to learn in.

We've also just been through Ofsted the last two days and were praised for our approach in EYFS and the attitude our children had to learning.

If this proposal does become reality I really don't think I can continue in my job which would break my heart because I love it. I won't represent the destruction of childhood or put pressure on a child on entry to school. I will be asking my whole EYFS phase to comment on this consultation in the hope that enough objections can cause a rethink. angry

mummytime Thu 18-Jul-13 06:52:58

I think baseline testing is a good thing BUT I thought the got rid of it because the foundation stage was supposed to be a continuum from pre-school to reception - so the relevant information should have already been collected (on most pupils)?

The ranking I do not like for two reasons, first it is meaningless unless given local context.
Second and more importantly psychological research show that this kind of ranking of students leads them to become rigid in their beliefs about learning and then to under perform .

Why can't the government look at any research on how the brain works and how learning works?

muminlondon Thu 18-Jul-13 07:45:39

missyPlumcake agree with your post but insisting on a raised level of those getting 'a good level four' or ... er, they will turn the school into a Harris academy ... ignores not only the fluctuating numbers with SEN etc. but also those who joined the school in year 5. Progress measures from KS1 to KS2 are better but still a bit flawed as they are messing with levels anyway. And good points from Purpleprickles about the massive pressure they would be putting five-year olds under.

This is not humane treatment of children. This is just way to sort and grade the merchandise before sending it off for auction. angry

IceAddict Thu 18-Jul-13 07:49:06

Surely teachers are trained well enough to know roughly how their class is ranked and who needs extra help?

Reception teachers definitely assess children at the moment. It's nonsense to imagine that all teachers don't assess their students on an ongoing basis.

DS2 is starting school in September and has been on a couple of visits to reception. The teacher has spent time during those visits talking to him, finding out what he likes doing and watching what he does in a classroom environment. She was definitely (very informally and in a preliminary way) 'assessing' him because she needs to get an idea of what his learning needs might be. Just because she wasn't filling in a standardised form or performing some kind of standardised test on him, doesn't mean she wasn't assessing him (in an entirely appropriate way).

I don't see the point in a formal (and measurable against) 'baseline assessment' beyond this. All the 'expected progress' stuff is meaningless at the individual level because it pure statistical abstraction. Children will make progress in their own idiosyncratic ways.

cory Thu 18-Jul-13 09:53:02

mummytime Thu 18-Jul-13 06:52:58

"Second and more importantly psychological research show that this kind of ranking of students leads them to become rigid in their beliefs about learning and then to under perform ."


Coupled with the fact that many children are not developmentally ready to start formal learning until age 5 or 6 and you can easily see how a programme of national testing at 4/5 could ruin a child's chances of educational success before their education has even started.

mam29 Thu 18-Jul-13 10:09:27

I was bit upset when saw this on news yesterday.

is it consultation so may not happen.

how the heck do you test a 5year old what sort things they suppost to know that preschools wouldent have taught them?

would this test be very start of term when some 4 as can see a lot of peoples applications being deferred entry.

Are year 6s not under enough pressure with sats without flipping rankings of how they perfom ij their school? locally or nationally ? as some schools depending on intake area be at disadvantage.

Ironic we often debate grammers on education thread and 11+

,most against as it makes 11 year olds feel like failures like this new testing wouldent.

I was told diffrence between sats and 11+ is sats measures tests what you learnt where as 11+ measures potential to learn so which is fairer would 11+ pick up something in some kids that primarys miss with their standardised tests or does level 5/6 sats mean 11+ chances good?

I would worry about secondry schools setting year 7 sets on priary tests as in my old comp the bottom sets were full if naughty disruptive kids and stressed out teachers so a child who was bit behind, keen to get on but well behaved stood no chance I know as that was me in some subjects.

I had to work very hard to get from group 6 english to group 2 thankfully they realised i was in wrong set, maths i was always crap despite effort, science was not my best subjct would have been better if they split into 3 scinces rather than combined as physics i hated. The bottom sets some dident do gcses or got out in for foundation papers so highest greade i think was d and would only do single award science or get put in for btecs.

too much testing and setting means some people deprived of education as i dont always belive groups are as as fluid at they say in primary and seniors.

As much as dont like alex salmond scotland seems appealing i dont think they meddle with education so much there.

wales seem fixated with their place in league tables.

irish freinds tell me irish and ni education so much better always confused with ni as they suppost to be part of uk.

Im sure on primary post we discussed trying to miss sats but dont think it can happen as they just sit in when they back theres no opt out of tests other than home ed.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 10:34:46

What is wrong with testing? They will be tested throughout their life. As early they get used to it better.

Also I have the right to know exactly where my child is with his or her learning journal. As soon as I know he or she is behind I can help him or her to catch up.

On day the teacher told me that my son is exactly where he should be with his learning. But what does it mean? Is he capable to do a University later on if he follows the same progress or not? Or they think he is not so clever so they won't give him harder work. From this sentence I cannot decide how good he is. But from a percentage I will know that he needs to do more work or he needs more help to be able to go to University and get a good job or he is fine without any help.

But if the teacher only says he is where he should be and the last year in primary the teacher says "the grammar school would not be the best choice for your son" or in the secondary "sorry your son won't be able to go to the University" then I cannot do anything, can I?

Parents have the right to know how clever is their child? So if the child is clever they can push a bit to be sure they will achieve academically or if the child not that clever they know there is no reason to push him or her.

And what is wrong with it if they now that one child is cleverer than the other child? They also know one child can run faster, swim better, sing better and play an instrument better than the other child. Or should not they have running on PE, because the slowest child will lose his or her self-confidence? Or no singing in music lesson for the same reason?

At least on the University they do not need to feel nervous when the exam is coming, because they already get used to the situation.

This type of teaching works all the other part of the Europe.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 18-Jul-13 11:00:55

As early they get used to it better. Yes. Put them in shirts and ties and suits and make them sit in cubicles now. The sooner they get used to this the better. angry

If you know they are at the same level as 40% of their peers according to some spurious test what does that tell you?

Elibean Thu 18-Jul-13 11:01:26

It depends on how the testing is conducted, and what it is used for, IMO.

It shouldn't feel like a test to a 5 year old, or there is something very very wrong.

And if it is to help a school to track and monitor an individual child's progress, thus enabling teachers to support that child better - there may be a place for it.

If the motive is to segregate from an early age, to force, to put pressure on (however inadvertently) or to label, then absolutely not.

Trouble is, a lot of the way tests are handled is down to the school and, to some extent, the parents. So some will misuse it, with negative consequences both on individual children and on the school community.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 11:16:39

Put them in shirts and ties and suits

Most of the school already doing it. Some does not do the suits, but shirts and ties are normal.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 11:18:44

Why it is better to beleive that your child is genius when she or he is not? You do not even have a chance to help him or her, because you beleive he or she is ok.

Talkinpeace Thu 18-Jul-13 11:21:30

Its a crap idea
to make money for a testing company
from a government of incompetents
that were not chosen by the people

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 18-Jul-13 11:31:18

Why it is better to beleive that your child is genius when she or he is not?

How are these tests going to tell you this? Opposing testing is not the same as burying your head in the sands. Testing is a lazy, inaccurate and counterproductive way of doing things. What you are guaranteed to produce is people who can do tests. That is all.

Shirts and ties not normal round here for primary school. How early do you think we should put them in shirts and ties and suits to get them used to it?

prettybird Thu 18-Jul-13 11:36:46

But what does ranking 5 year olds into deciles tell you? hmm Nowt - except that some kids develop earlier than others.

Ds couldn't read at 5 - or even at 6 (finally learnt at 6.5). He "failed" a private school assessment at 4.5, He is now nearly 12 and excelling at secondary school and I'd be prepared to wager that he's also be in the top sets at the private school that wouldn't accept him (oh, they'd want him now especially since he is also talented at sport).....

I too "failed" an assessment for a selective school aged 5. I went on to get 6 As at Higher (think the rough equivalent would be 4 As at A Levels).

I do agree with whoever it was that said that rankings at such an early age would be dangerous for the children a s it would creat self-limiting beliefs sad

And as for This type of teaching works all the other part of the Europe. - what a load of poppycock given that all most of the rest of Europe hasn't even started formal education at 5.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 11:43:36

In south-east England it is normal to have uniform with shirt and tie from Reception in a state school and shirt, tie and suit from Reception in a private school.

The tests are accurate. All of our life we need to work under pressure, we need to achieve under pressure.

If a child knows that 2+2 is 4 then he or she will knows this all the time, in the classroom, in the test, at night when you wake up him or her, in the shop when he needs to pay, etc... If he or she knows the answer only in the lesson and can show this only for his or her teacher then the child is not sure about his knowledge and he or she needs more practice.

All of our life not only one person judge us.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 11:45:29

That is right. Most of Europe start education at 6.

SpringHeeledJack Thu 18-Jul-13 11:46:25

awful awful awful

demotivating to children. And to teachers, I shouldn't wonder.

I don't know who would benefit from this-apart from (possibly) the parents on the top centile

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 18-Jul-13 11:48:30

We live in the south east. All the primary school children around us wallow in muddy polo shirts. It makes me happy looking at them.

So how early we should put them in a pressure cooker?

I grow up with lots of testing. I spent a few years in one of those east Asia countries whose testing system is the envy of Gove & co. They don't tell you about the suicide and depression rates. angry sad

Worriedmind Thu 18-Jul-13 11:48:46

There are direct trains where I live across the Scottish and Welsh borders. Seriously considering it!

Elibean Thu 18-Jul-13 12:36:36

We live in SW London. My dds are at a primary school in comfy polo shirts (or t-shirts, if they are the right colour, on occasion) and no ties except on the Head and male teachers.

Thank goodness.

If only Gove stopped to ask himself the question: who is this benefiting, parents, schools or the actual children? sad

prettybird Thu 18-Jul-13 12:38:59

Actually, I had been half joking when I posted "With Gove's mathematical prowess, I am sure he'll be expecting all pupils to be ranked in the top 50% and will penalise those schools that fail to achieve this hmmconfused"

But I've just read the proposals in greater detail and see that there will be level of achievement for schools (below which an Ofsted inspection would be triggered.... This is currently 60% for Sats tests but would rise to 85% under the proposed change

So what he wants is for all the children to be in the top 15% shockconfusedconfusedconfused

But I will cut Gove a tiny bit of some slack - it would appear that Nick Clegg is also statistically challenged grin

InMyShreddies Thu 18-Jul-13 12:57:02

As a teacher and a mother, this proposal strikes dread into me. I will not allow my (currently preschool) child to sit such a test. And I believe that the EYFS is excellent and we have an early years system that, for all its flaws, creates happy, challenged and stimulated children ready for school. If this test comes to fruition, preschools will become crammers for it sad

Please HQ, campaign against this.

Talkinpeace Thu 18-Jul-13 13:41:01

south-east England it is normal to have uniform with shirt and tie from Reception in a state school
the vast vast majority of state primary schools use polo shirts

and only about half of state secondaries choose tie and blazer over polo shirt

prettybird Thu 18-Jul-13 13:53:17

The Scottish primaries I've seen seem to mostly have polo shirts. Ds' primary had the option of shirt and tie - but in practice most of the children wore polo shirts with a few starting to wear a polo shirt in P7 (last year of primary).

Ds' (state) secondary does have a shirt and tie for its uniform - I have no issue once they are becoming teenagers and developing into young adults with encouraging them to wear stricter uniform.

hm32 Thu 18-Jul-13 14:24:24

*InMyShreddies Thu 18-Jul-13 12:57:02
As a teacher and a mother, this proposal strikes dread into me. I will not allow my (currently preschool) child to sit such a test. And I believe that the EYFS is excellent and we have an early years system that, for all its flaws, creates happy, challenged and stimulated children ready for school. If this test comes to fruition, preschools will become crammers for it sad

Please HQ, campaign against this.*

I agree, also as a mother and a teacher. I'd rather home educate than put my child through the type of education Gove is after.

Fillyjonk75 Thu 18-Jul-13 14:26:52

I like the current system of levels. Yes, it does allow comparison and could make kids feel demotivated as the proposed new system could, but being told you are a level 3 at 11, while you might be aware some of your peers are a level 5, doesn't seem as bad as being told you are in the bottom 15% and could only ever be expected to be so.

Levels seems to allow kids to make whatever progress they can whilst also allowing comparisons across the cohort and nationally.

It's just shuffling the deckchairs to a worst position - in full glare of the sun. A lot will be burned.

daytoday Thu 18-Jul-13 14:35:28

There is a saying 'you can't keep weighing the pig to make it fatter.'

All that time that will spent testing and teaching to be tested - is absolutely wasted time.

BornToFolk Thu 18-Jul-13 14:37:48

In south-east England it is normal to have uniform with shirt and tie from Reception in a state school and shirt, tie and suit from Reception in a private school.

hmm Got any actual proof to back that up rrbrigi? I can't think of a single state primary in my large SE town where children wear shirts and ties.

Worriedmind Thu 18-Jul-13 14:50:09


Response form for consultation is on this page.

They want Teaching unions, Ofqual, Ofsted, primary schools, headteachers,teachers, local authorities, employer groups, parents, pupils and others interested in primary education views.

Talkinpeace Thu 18-Jul-13 15:00:23
CorrieDale Thu 18-Jul-13 15:35:41

That's a nice analogy fillyjonk.

Elibean Thu 18-Jul-13 16:39:55

Me either (shirt and ties at state primary). Actually, the only one in our borough that does, afaik, is the church school.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Thu 18-Jul-13 19:00:27

But is it really any different frim the clinic charts witj the height and weight percwntiles in? I am a teacher and I fully support that every child should have their own target and inly be compared to that, not another child. However, at least half to two thirds if paretns still ask at parenta eve "well where does that put him the class?" or "ok he's level 5 but what is everyone else on". some parents find it hard to understand levels. they may support "near the top of the class" or "about middle" etc. But who wants to be told they are the bottom / last 10'/ and someone always has to be sad

muminlondon Thu 18-Jul-13 19:05:22

Less than a fifth of independent schools do SATs because they are 'counterproductive and corrosive' and 'a relentless grad-grinding experience'. That's down from 50% when they were first introduced.


So are they acknowledging the state system always been a lot more rigorous than the independent sector? Isn't it a contradiction to suggest there is underperformance in the state system when they can't even benchmark against private schools?

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 21:00:18

Do you know what I noticed? It is a few school who wants shirt and tie. I thougt it is the same in every state school, sorry. But here is the evidence and this is not a church school:

All children should return in September in their Winter uniform. (If the weather is particularly warm we will review the wearing of ties).
Our dress code has two options for winter uniform. Parents can choose either Option 1 or Option 2 for their child.

Mid-grey tailored skirt or pinafore dress (straight skirts are not acceptable)
Mid-grey tailored trousers/shorts (flared or bootlegged styles are not acceptable)
White long/short sleeved shirt
White long/short sleeved shirt
Navy/gold tie &#61664;
Navy/gold tie &#61664;
Grey v-necked sweater or cardigan
Grey v-necked sweater or cardigan
Grey, navy or white socks or tights
Grey, navy or white socks or tights
&#61664; Ties are not required for the Summer Term but should be worn for the Autumn Term and Spring Term. Neither trousers nor skirts should have any jewellery or other adornments attached to them.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 21:03:30

muminlondon I would like to know sooner than later if my child is in the bottom of the class. At least I know he needs help and I can give the help for him.

rrbrigi Thu 18-Jul-13 21:05:01

I wanted to say this to Ohhelpohnoitsa.

pointythings Thu 18-Jul-13 22:36:55

Well, round here uniform is flexible and involves polo shirts. Trousers, skirts, pinafores and shorts can all be black or grey, not one or the other. The kids look fine. The idea of putting a just-turned-four-year-old in a tie makes me want to weep, frankly.

Talkinpeace Thu 18-Jul-13 22:44:46

my girls primary school had ties from age 4 : but then the uniform is one of the most distinctive in Saith Ken wink

It is different to height charts (but possibly not weight charts, which are controversial, as are BMI percentile charts) because educational ranking by percentile comes with a judgement of worth. The top 10% are thought of as better than the bottom 10% (indeed, better than the 90% below them). Height is far more neutral (although weight certainly does come with judgement).

And it in no way helps anyone. Schools work with the cohort they get, not national averages. And children aren't in competition. Learning isn't a zero sum game.

One school uniform with a tie does not a norm make... Incidentally the best performing state school in my bit has a polo shirt and sweatshirt uniform. Dressing like a young conservative doesn't actually have anything to do with teaching and learning.

BlackeyedSusan Thu 18-Jul-13 23:47:12

i am concerned that some parents will deem their child to have failed if they are not in the top 10% this risks a 90% "failure rate."

BlackeyedSusan Thu 18-Jul-13 23:49:10

i do object though to being told by a government bod on the radio that i do not understand levels. better than the exceeds/meets/not met expectations we are going to get in future. that gives no indication of progress.

ipadquietly Thu 18-Jul-13 23:53:38

rrbrigi ''muminlondon I would like to know sooner than later if my child is in the bottom of the class. At least I know he needs help and I can give the help for him.''

So you want to wait until the end of Y6 to find out?

By continuous assessment and data tracking, children with problems are identified very early on in primary school at the moment.

rrbrigi Fri 19-Jul-13 10:23:35

No, I meant I would like to know as soon as possible, so I can help him to catch up with the work.

muminlondon Fri 19-Jul-13 13:36:38

Don't you get annual reports? An explanatory note with the report that tells you national expectations for the levels/sublevels of that specific year group (with the caveat that progress is never even, that there are spurts and plateaux)? Opportunities to check work and speak to the teacher once a term? Regular comments in a reading record?

If not, and it is a terrible shock to find your child is in the top 40% but not the top 30%, there is not much time for the school to do anything more as the results are given to you after you have already secured a secondary place and about a week before the end of term. I know I would just feel slightly unsettled but powerless. And how would you communicate that to your child - how would you expect them to respond?

PastSellByDate Fri 19-Jul-13 16:54:51

I have to admit I haven't read everyone's post - so apologies to anyone who has also already said this.

It seems to me teachers feel that the NC Levels at KS1/ KS2 SATs already give relative rankings approximately.

Teachers also argue that they have a great deal of data on performance of individual children.

Parents posting on this seem to be saying that they'd like to know how their child is doing nationally (data that a local school might not hold initially) and often do not understand detail on their child's school performance in core subjects.

Schools should be more proactive - identifying earlier those pupils who are not achieving the notional attainment targets for that year and getting them extra help. It would be a huge improvement if teachers could be comfortable enough to openly discuss this with parents, possibly sending home extra work, hosting workshops to help parents understand what they can do, etc....

Our school is woefully slow to openly tell parents a DC isn't doing as well as expected. Years go by - i.e. DD1 didn't get reading support until Y4, when it was clear to us that by early-Y2 she was seriously behind her peers in the school.

Help did come (at home & at school) and it did make a difference - but primaries need to be more proactive and notional achievement targets need to be seen as minimum performance target for pupils (with the proviso that pupils with health issues/ special needs may not be able to make 'mainstream' targets). Also it shouldn't take parents becoming 'pushy' to get help for a child - it really should be something easily coped with by effective teaching/ senior management tracking of pupil progress.

It seems if the goal is to raise standards then that challenge has to start in primary so that secondaries are not struggling to get large portions of their entering Y7 cohort 'up to speed'.

I agree that a blank statement 'You're in the bottom 10%' seems harsh, but the reality is with KS2 results that you can see what percentage scored broad NC Levels nationally, so most parents already are given this information, but possibly not as bluntly. I also think that the point is what happens next.

Telling a child & their family their bottom 10% and doing nothing to rectify this doesn't seem an effective or helpful approach. (With the obvious proviso that this excludes those children suffering chronic illness/ disease and/or those with learning difficulties/ disabilities which may preclude 'mainstream' targets) If the lowest 25% (maybe more) are going to have resources targetted at them to improve their educational standard then although it would be upsetting to hear you're not meeting standard - if this is used as a means of identifying those pupils in need of additional support/ tuition and targetting resources to them, that does strike me as a good thing. But as many have mentioned the later this kind of intervention is left the harder making positive improvements becomes. Therefore, it may be better to ensure a basic standard of pupil progress tracking and speedy intervention - so that a DC unable to subtract is helped at the time, not years later.

However, in all this hoopla nobody seems to have clearly explained what the intention of formally ranking a child against ability bands (by 10% - top 10%, 10 - 20%, etc...) is meant to achieve - and frankly why devise such a system if you have no intention of doing anything once you've generated the data (labelled the child)?

muminlondon Fri 19-Jul-13 18:39:45

PastSellByDate for the last two years there has been a new 'progress' measure - schools are meant to ensure pupils attain at least two levels of progress between KS1 and KS2. And Ofsted is now very strict on tracking data. So schools won't be able to avoid focusing on children at all ability levels rather just getting them to Level 4.

The other thing is that deciles are really misleading anyway. If you're ranked according to a fixed number of pupils you will find that although the majority of pupils are 4a-4c, and cluster around 4b, their deciles may span 20-70% even though there is little difference in marks between the top and bottom of them. A bit like the data dashboard where some grammar schools are in the 4th quintile despite being in the highest quintile of grammar schools (which is 6% of the population).

Talkinpeace Fri 19-Jul-13 18:59:22
mummytime Fri 19-Jul-13 19:15:29

I think at the best 50% of pupils will think they have failed.

It is also counter to all research on brain function and psychology.

Oh sorry silly me "we just ignore all that kind of thing if it conflicts with how my private schools worked"; regardless of how strong the evidence is for how the brain works (CT Scans and so on).

MrButtercat Fri 19-Jul-13 19:17:15

Mum but the 2 levels progress doesn't help those in a weak school or those who matured after y2 Sats ie it goes against some children.

muminlondon Fri 19-Jul-13 21:11:04

If it's a weak school Ofsted will probably use the progress measure to downgrade it. The governors/LA should then have an action plan - unless it's forced to become an academy (for which there's no justification IMO). But I agree it's a bit crude. And the govt obviously wants to widen the progress measure to justify testing at 5 but that's even cruder and more unreliable.

PastSellByDate Sun 21-Jul-13 08:14:35

Hi muminlondon:

I think people are worried about the effect on the bottom 50%, maybe even those achieving 4b (the notional expected target end KS2) and learning that in fact that's not a stellar result. The reality is regardless of scores a rank system will naturally result in poor attainment - middle attainment - high attainment and there will be losers.

So again, I just wonder what is this meant to achieve. It seems to me by this proposal Clegg is saying that too large a proportion of Y7 pupils can't engage with senior school curriculum.

So isn't the solution to work out how to address this problem (and I don't underestimate that it is a huge problem as many very young children are coping with parents who abuse drugs/ alchohol; high mobility; EAL; poverty/ FSM; family breakdown; death in family; unemployment of parent(s); learning disabilities; etc....).

What I wonder is whether the solution needs to be

early identification of struggling students

early intervention to help them (remedial tuition in school/ homework help/ additional reading time/ etc...)


recognition that this all may be too much for a school to handle and do a good job by the other pupils.

Perhaps rather than spending tax payers money on another test/ another statistic gathering exercise - possibly the solution is developing a rescue plan for these pupils which supports them and their schools in turning poor performance around.

anitasmall Sun 21-Jul-13 13:13:07


You are right early identification and intervention/help are very important. If there are too many children entering secondary education that are unable to cope with the secondary education than they weren't identified and helped properly.

High/Mid/Low Achiever doesn't mean anything. In my daughter's class there are children who can add 10X more 1 and 2 digit numbers at the same time than the others. So 1 year before they write KS1 tests there is already an enormous gap and parents should really know about it.

RefuseToWorry Mon 22-Jul-13 19:58:11

Early identification and intervention support are crucial. However 'support' that simply seeks to bump a child up through the levels is not enough. Children who are struggling need plenty of opportunities to develop healthy attitudes to learning (eg building resilience and a growth mindset.)

I finished my job as a primary school teacher today. Initiatives like the idea to rank 11 year olds are the reason I had to escape the system (my resilience ran out, I'm sorry to say.)


Tiggles Tue 23-Jul-13 15:17:02

They did the ranking in Wales this year. I now know (based on the results of one test) where DS1 is compared to every other 11year old in Wales in numeracy and literacy. From next year I will get the results again (so I can check if he has stayed at the same ranking) and also for DS2 (who will go into year 2).
All children from year 2 to year 9 receive a standardised score where 100 is average, then there are cut offs for above average and exceptionally above average. Each child also receives the 'age' (like a reading age) they are working at.
Whilst I found it useful to know that the standardised scores DS1 received make his SATS results look probably correct (we don't have national tests, it is also teacher assessment) and I was concerned they had been inflated. I don't really put much faith into thinking that DS1 is a genius in literacy - he just had a good test on the day.
I have however met several children who are below average in maths/literacy who have now decided that they just can't do maths/literacy and that is that. They have also been making up scores for themselves to brag to their friends to make themselves sound better sad. (As in I overheard conversation between the children, whilst I was talking to their parents who were thinking they should bring in a tutor)

Elibean Thu 25-Jul-13 11:26:27

LMG sad awful to hear about the very children who probably need a confidence boost and support being depressed by the ranking instead. Awful, and predictable, really.

Its the lack of basic common sense, thinking through and care taken over these wretched policies that get to me.

Well done to your ds, though smile

allyfe Sun 28-Jul-13 21:40:48

It shocks me how obsessed we are, as a nation, with basically how intelligent our children are. It is so hard to rise above the national obsession with rankings and levels of achievement. We are told that if your child doesn't go to the right university, they won't get the right job. If they haven't gone to the right secondary school, they won't get to the right university. If they haven't done will enough at primary school, they won't get into the right secondary school (or, as parents, you haven't made enough money to either move into the right catchment area or pay for education). I know I am already desperate for my child to do well. I want her to work hard and succeed. But the biggest irony is that I never excelled at school. My ability wasn't recognised, but at primary school it didn't matter because my education was so creative and NOT based on rote /fact learning, but exploring and thinking. My secondary school was more fact based, and I didn't do so well. I didn't go to a top university. I went to a college of higher education. But I did my MSc at a good university, and my PhD at a good university. I now lecture in a moderate university. Everyone talks about standards dropping, but at the same time the parents of A-level students tell me how incredibly hard they work. But in my view, what has gone wrong is that our children are taught to learn, but not taught to think. So they work hard, they learn a lot, but they come in to University so shockingly unable to actually think. I think this obsession with learning but not thinking comes from the continuous testing, and obsession with levels. It is important that there are some standards, but the standards should reflect difference, both in the stages and ages at which children 'get' things, and the importance of self-lead learning. Lecture over. Sorry!

SheerWill Mon 29-Jul-13 10:14:12

I think our country's obsession with testing children is really very sad and very damaging for our children. We are always told that other countries such as Finland and Hungary get fantastic results, but they don't test their children formally until they reach 15/16 years old - when they are ready and independent enough for such a challenging experience.

Our children are forced into formal learning when they are not ready for it. They're forced to learn cursive handwriting before their fine motor skills are fully developed. Their opportunities to learn from play and explore from their environment are not catered for (for long enough) and class sizes for smaller children 3-7 are far too big to allow the summer-borns and quieter children time to develop their confidence and self-esteem, thus creating more barriers to learning.

GherkinsAreAce Mon 29-Jul-13 10:20:04

My DS is summer born (July), has a speech delay and a hearing problem. He is not even keeping pace with his exact peers, yet in 2 years is expected to go to school with children who will almost all be older than him. And now they want to test him as well?!

The system is just crackers sad

GherkinsAreAce Mon 29-Jul-13 10:21:43

Ally, just read your post and I couldn't agree more. Too much teaching to the test and not enough learning for the enjoyment of it, accompanied by thinking, analysing and imagining.

Mashabell Wed 31-Jul-13 14:05:33

Our children are forced into formal learning when they are not ready for it.

The problem is much bigger than that. Our children are forced to learn something which is much too difficult for 1 in 5 and very difficult for nearly half of all pupils: - to read and write English. As literacy is fundamental to other learning, this has many tragic consequences.

When u have a spelling system like the Finnish one, which makes learning to read and write very easy, because it never baffles children with phonic inconsistencies like 'paid - said' or 'on - only - once', or unpredictable spellings like 'speak - speech - teach - shriek...', u are in completely different ball park.

The only thing that would make a difference would be modernisation of English spelling, but that idea seems utterly insane to many. They much prefer the madness of pointless tests and putting children, parents and teachers under endless, needless pressure.

Masha Bell

mrz Wed 31-Jul-13 17:30:24

[yawn] why do you turn everything into your spelling reform crusade ... the fact is most children do learn to read and write and many more would if taught effectively.

Adding yet more levels of testing for primary age children serves no purpose other than creating data for the sake of it.

Mashabell Wed 31-Jul-13 19:30:35

I don't turn everything into a spelling reform crusade. I merely try to draw people's attention to the most fundamental educational problem which affects all English-speaking countries.

Even if taught very effectively, learning to read and write English takes much longer than with more regular spelling systems and is extremely difficult for some children. That does have serious consequences.

If the testing of 5 yr olds resulted in giving more help to those who need it, there would be a point to it. Apart from that, I agree with u about it serving no purpose.

mrz Wed 31-Jul-13 19:35:24

but it isn't the problem you try to claim masha ... millions of children have no problem learning to read even with our complex language - the testing is to measure progress and identify the most able at age 11

Ocelotl Mon 05-Aug-13 11:19:46

This approach to education is the equivalent of opening the oven door every five minutes to check if the cake has risen - utterly counterproductive.

The only people to profit will be the tutoring industry, who'll be have paranoid pressure-cooker mums signing up their children at age 4 so they are spared the blushes of seeing them thrown on the "bottom 10%" scrapheap aged 5.

ukjess Mon 05-Aug-13 14:51:03

I think the idea is noble enough.
I can see it would have some uses.

But overall I think the cons outweigh the pros.

anitasmall Mon 05-Aug-13 19:26:50


Yes, the Finnish and Hungarian spelling is very easy but both countries do very well at many other subjects, too (maths, science, foreign languages).
There are other high achieving countries that use complicated reading-writing system(s) (not just one writing but one for every day and one posh): Chinese, Japanese... It is hard to read and to form their letters however their education system is very advanced, top ranked. In addition Far East children also start too early and spend much longer hours at school...

So you can't just blame the spelling system, the age of the Reception class children...

Doesn't it become obvious to teachers very quickly which of their students need more support? confused

I think slotting 11 year-olds into "ability bands" will just encourage the adults in charge to pigeonhole them. Why would a parent or teacher continue the hard work of helping a child learn to write a fluent essay or understand some mathematics beyond arithmetic - why even reach for that target - if a test just labels him as "40% ability" anyway? Even if that's not the intent of the test, I reckon that would be the result.

Testing once at 5 and once at 11 would also assume that a child's needs for support in school are static - it assumes that they never change. However, from my own (very anecdotal) experience, that isn't the case at all. One of the studies highlighted in Nuture Shock - the one discussing the merits of Gifted & Talented Kindergarten - argues the same.

busychad Sat 10-Aug-13 14:49:30

All children are tested and given a 'baseline' when the start reception - to identify if they are making progress.

This is nothing new.

mrz Sun 11-Aug-13 20:45:01

Not all schools use baseline assessment in reception and I don't know any that test.

babasheep Mon 12-Aug-13 23:48:03

How many more times do any governments of any parties in the past and present have to tell our children and parents and teachers we are never good enough and now officially starts from the age of 5?! When will any government simplify any state systems rather than put another layer of complication and say these are reforms. Why start ranking at 11? Why don't start as soon as they are born just based on their parents' cvs and incomes and birth places? Why don't they give more supports to parents and schools so that we are better position to take of our children's development mentally, physically and academically? JOKE

Fraxinus Sat 31-Aug-13 22:45:57

Well there is very little positive said on this thread about the extra testing and ranking.

I'm not saying anything new, but I agree that all it does it put extra pressure on teachers, schools children and parents.

Is that what we need? Is extra stress and pressure going to help our children achieve more? Why doesn't nick clegg ask himself these questions? I'm sure he knows the answers!

sarahmumsnet what's the next step, you have got a lot of opinions on here. Will you be doing any campaigning?

Mashabell Sun 08-Sep-13 07:55:59

^ Finnish and Hungarian spelling is very easy but both countries do very well at many other subjects, too (maths, science, foreign languages).^

When children can become fluent readers in 3 months and pretty accurate spellers of nearly all common words in a year (instead of 3 years and 10 years in English), this has enormous educational benefits all round.
Not only is there much less need to hear children read aloud and to monitor their progress in reading and writing, or those endless exercises which help to imprint the 4,000 common words with quirky spellings on children's minds, or spelling tests, or parents and teachers endlessly having to answer the question 'how do u spell....?', children get much earlier access to independent learning of subjects like maths and science, apart from having more time for them.

There is also a far more relaxed attitude to all learning, because there is much less fear of falling behind and of failure. When I was first came to England as an au-pair back in 1964 I was horrified how worries about learning to read and write crept into everything for the three boys I helped to look after. It felt like I had been plunged into some crazy hot house which was completely different from what I experienced first in Lithuania and then in Germany. People from Scandinavia tend to notice this difference even more.

A spelling system which makes learning to read and write difficult and very time-consuming affects the whole of education. Even at university, spelling continues to problematic for many students. This is entirely because of the irregularities of English spelling. They have a multitude of knock-on effects.

Bonsoir Wed 11-Sep-13 08:52:27

I think this odious. Horrific. What's next? Gassing the bottom 20%?

Bonsoir Wed 11-Sep-13 09:33:33

Another thing: my DD's school ( in France), streams in the first year of primary. Parents go to inordinate lengths to get their DC in the "top" class. We are now four years down the line and there is no correlation at all between the DC who were in that top class and the high performers now.

squeezedatbothends Mon 23-Sep-13 20:18:24

The deciles are an awful idea. debrakidd.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/pride-and-prejudice/


pink75 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:29:34

If people have strong views on this they should respond to the consultation before the start of October.

bsc Mon 23-Sep-13 21:59:12

I am a little confused at the strength of feeling against this- this is effectively what already happen- children are 'baselined' when they start school (used to be PIPs and Signposts, now it's EYFS) then they're assessed at 7, and again at 11. Parents are given their results, and told what this means. Schools look at the baseline assessment, compare it with the Y2 assessment, and the Y6 assessment, and see which areas of their curriculum they need to improve.

It's been going on for years.
Surely you'd be able to work out which decile your child is in if they came home with a 6 at KS2 or a B? Schools send home charts comparing their performance with the whole of the LA and National in our authority, so you can see how they're doing.

The other issue is... if you boycott, then secondary schools have no way to demonstrate to govt that they are adding value to your child, i.e. that your child has made adequate progress throughout Secondary school... unless you want your child to be tested/baselined on entry to Secondary?

babasheep Thu 26-Sep-13 12:52:19

My dd a summer child and a late bloomer. DD wasn't even fully graduated from potty training until after her 4th birthday just the summer before school starts. DD didn't start writing and reading words until yr 1 after her 5th birthday at that time she was still very behind. However by the time she was just seven her reading and spelling age were nearly nine yr old. So what would happen a child similar to my dd if they were tested at age five.

Every so often my dcs come out school they ll tell me they did a literacy or maths test today plus the on going reading tests and weekly spelling and metal maths.

Also right now my dc1 is practicing the 11+ questions everyday just hope dc will pass the test well enough so that dc can avoid the failing schools. Their school has started giving the children more homework to focus on the ks2 sat.

Caring parents don't need to be told by excessive test results to support their children's education. For those uncaring ones they don't care anyway.

Many caring parent support their dcs' education:
Scrap every penny to pay for private tuitions
Pay a fortune to private schools
Pay around £1000 a year on bus fees for better schools
Spending a lot times and energy to coach their dcs to cope with 11+ and sats
Move houses
Use renting accommodations
Use family or friends' addresses
Lie about home addresses

Is creating more tests the priority?

softtoyqueen Thu 03-Oct-13 13:00:18

Absolutely NOT!

Damaging for kids.

The ones who know they are bright may be paralysed by this knowledge from trying as hard as they could (and I speak as someone who at the age of 11 was ranked in the top 0.1 per cent - and proceeded to prefer never trying to trying and coming out less than on the very top).

Alternately, parents may lower their expectations because they don't think their children are particularly clever (as happened with another child I know after an early IQ test with an educational psychologist judged him average, and yet the child turned out to be very smart and happy and is at a Russell Group university).

I also say this also as a parent who COULD become competitive were I given percentage results (and is already, in my heart competitive about things like NC levels, against my will and against my beliefs). I was so much happier in the earlier years when my childrens' schools just evaluated them on how they were doing, er they were happy, whether they seemed rounded.

Finally, I say this as a parent who can see that the kids who do best in my childrens' classes are predominantly the ones from the well-supported middle-class, more monied, families. I don't believe there is such a thing as a neutral test - even in VR/NRC. Banding is only going to entrench this unfairness further.

juliawake Fri 25-Oct-13 17:42:30

You don't fatten a pig by weighing it

morethanpotatoprints Mon 28-Oct-13 17:11:31

But this isn't more testing at all. It is exactly the same as children have always had, well at least the past 40 years that I know of.
The problem is what the gov intend to do with the results that is the problem. Giving the test a name like SATS, putting pressure on schools to reach targets.
Its not the bloody tests, but the circus that surrounds them that's the problem sad

mrz Mon 28-Oct-13 17:34:50

It looks like the testing will go ahead and will focus on maths & English

Emily1974 Tue 29-Oct-13 13:45:51

Not like the idea of branding but it's a good idea to see where my children are at, perhaps work on the areas they are a bit behind if necessary.

My son isn't very academic, he is always at the bottom groups in his class and kept saying he is not good at this and that and his friends are clever at this and that. He is not very competitive neither, instead of work harder, he just concludes that he just not clever enough to do it. sad

Sometimes it's hard to support him, I spent pretty much most of my support time to him instead of her sister who has always been achieving very well in school. (All level 3s in KS1 SATs). I never had to "revise" anything with her, she is at Y3 now and does her homeworks and read herself without much of my support. He often wonder why he has to spend 10 times more time on school work than his sister. sad

Perhaps SATs results should only be for parent's eyes?

losingtrust Wed 30-Oct-13 21:50:32

Mother of two summer borns very worried although DS had caught by by year 6 but not until year 5.

nellieellie Mon 04-Nov-13 11:17:33

I am also mother to 2 summer-borns. Ranking at 5 (if at start of the reception yr, most children are still 4!) is ridiculous. Of course a good teacher will identify what children need more help, but formal ranking is just stupid and will not achieve anything other than to label younger children, or those who have simply not developed the skills yet to progress in formal education. Atthis age the difference in development between individual children is huge. A friend with a September child said to me when her child was 4 that she had no interest in letters, alphabet or reading, and goodness knows what she would have done if her child had been a summer-born. When she started school a few weeks before she was 5, it was a different story - she could write, she could read. She started school with everyone telling her how clever she was. If she'd started school a few weeks after she was 4 (as both mine did) she would have felt from day 1 that she was not as clever as her class mates, that she had to do special work to catch up..... Under these proposals, the grading is formalised, it is made therefore MORE IMPORTANT. At this age I honestly do not think it matters a jot if your child cannot read, write and would rather be running around the classroom or playing outside in sand pits. I have seen children from my DD's class who fitted this description - now in year 2 - reading really well. There is a lot of research that indicates children are often not ready for formal reading and writing until they are 6. Other European countries do not start school until this age or later and their children end up better educated so what is the point of this??

DuckToWater Mon 04-Nov-13 14:07:17

DD1 is one of the youngest in her year but also one of the highest achievers, academically, so she wouldn't be disadvantaged by ranking.

But I still think it's a more unfair and divisive system than the current National Curriculum levels. What matters is how an individual child progresses throughout the school and if they are making enough progress to their potential. The current system also tells you at what level the average child is at various stages if you want to compare your child to that standard. Also teachers do tend to tell you informally where your child is in relation to the rest of the cohort, without giving them a badge to say they are in the top 5% or whatever.

Putting people into percentage boxes is a nonsense - what if there is hardly any variation in scores on a test? Say all the kids did well in an exam and got more than 80 out of a hundred. What matters is they all got more than 80 out of a hundred so get a particular grade, not whether someone who "only" got 80 is ranked at the bottom and someone who got 99 is at the top. It turns everything into a race!

You should know this is also happening to civil servants. In a department the "bottom" 20% could risk losing their jobs even though technically they are performing well.

Mashabell Fri 15-Nov-13 10:02:00

I just want to remind people again that Finnish pupils have no formal testing or ranking before the age of 18, yet regularly outperform the rest of the world.

But they have the advantage of having one of the world's simplest spelling systems. It uses just 38 totally reliable spellings for its 38 speech sounds. This enables pupils to learn to read and write very easily and exceptionally fast, and to move on to other learning shortly after starting school.

English spelling lies at the opposite end of the range. The 44 English sounds are spelt with 205 graphemes, many of which are totally unpredictable (leave, sleeve, believe, ravine, even...). Worse still, 69 spellings have more than one pronunciation (treat, great, threat) and make learning to read and exceptionally difficult and time-consuming, and much harder to teach too, and delay access to other learning.

When something is difficult and takes a long time to learn, there is far more scope for falling behind, and careful monitoring of progress is more important, but only if this leads to the provision of appropriate support where needed.

Teachers usually know which children are not keeping up but have difficulty getting them the help they need. It would be much better to spend money on that instead of on more, or more rigorous, testing.

The best solution of all would be to make English spelling more learner-friendly.

anitasmall Sun 17-Nov-13 16:53:27


Spelling system is only part of the problem. There are many other countries with very simple spelling system (like all the Slav countries) that don't perform like Finland or Hungary.

PastSellByDate Thu 21-Nov-13 16:15:11

Just quoting juliawake
who posted Fri 25-Oct-13 17:42:30
You don't fatten a pig by weighing it


Absolutely. But does it help to know if you have a really heavy pig (my that will fetch a good price at market) or alternatively a really slim pig (oh dear, she's the runt of the litter).

It's 'weighing' their performance (admittedly a snapshot) which can identify high fliers and stragglers.

Now the question for government shouldn't be have a test to identify relative performance (at how ever many million of tax payers money) - but it should be having paid yet again to gather this data (and in fact it's already gathered I suspect) - what are they going to do with the information?


If it is below this percentile children will get swift and targeted help to bridge the gap in achievement - and yes, testing if it's a case of learning disability/ glasses if it is a case of poor vision/ hearing aids if it is a case of poor hearing/ etc..... then, yes, I'm all for this - but so far that doesn't seem to be what the government are saying.

rabbitstew Thu 21-Nov-13 16:36:47

We all know the problem with children being labelled too young - apart from the Government, it seems. The problem with expected norms and telling schools how children are expected to do in year 6 as a consequence of the results of tests in year 2, is only statistics behave like that, not children. Some children with lots of potential will be held back and others will be pushed too hard, all to satisfy something other than reality. So much for personalised learning.

rabbitstew Thu 21-Nov-13 16:46:22

Mind you, I think they are scrapping SATs? Ranking at 11 only makes sense if you are planning to stream children - ie reintroduce the 11 plus, except in name? Assessing at age 5 I agree is already done in schools, or in any schools I've been into. Interestingly, the schools' assessments of the children rarely correspond with what the government thinks should be the case in schools of a similar demographic (back to statistics versus reality, again), so maybe the government wants to update its expectations of the nation's 5-year olds, so that it can provide schools with yet more unhelpful statistics which just seem to create schools that treat children like statistics, because they are judged on the basis of those statistics, not on each individual child.

Janacek Sat 23-Nov-13 10:18:34

Totally disagree with it.My DS did appallingly in yr 5 CATS and is not flying in yr 6 results are up 20%. He is a boy and boys are often late developers. How demoralising for a child to be labelled at the age of 5 or 11 for that matter. Education is about learning not continual testing.

Janacek Sat 23-Nov-13 10:19:22

Totally disagree with it.My DS did appallingly in yr 5 CATS and is nowflying in yr 6 .results are up 20%. He is a boy and boys are often late developers. How demoralising for a child to be labelled at the age of 5 or 11 for that matter. Education is about learning not continual testing.

mrz Mon 02-Dec-13 20:17:15

Mind you, I think they are scrapping SATs? not at end of KS2 according to the latest from unions

intitgrand Tue 03-Dec-13 13:51:05

I think it would be a good idea to intelligence test them and then attainment test them and see how the 2 rankings compare.This would show how well schools were developing potential.
I wouldn't have the slightest problem with my DC being ranked-in fact I would welcome it because primary school intakes vary so much

Rockinhippy Wed 04-Dec-13 13:12:26

I missed this earlier, but the results of this may well be the reason I've come over to this section for advice.

as a DIRECT result of the stupid none stop testing in primary school I now have my DD - who has pushed herself to go back to school early, after a very nasty chest infection, causing a bad asthma flare up, because she loves school - has spent the morning stressed as hell having a 45minute test thrown at her out of the blue - a test she feels she has done badly at because she isnt well & now she has an IBS flare up from hell & I'm having to keep her home because she literally cant leave the toilet as a direct result of the stress this has caused - she's 11 FFS & VERY bright, if she feels so bad about these stupid none stop tests, what the hell does it do to the less bright poor mites angry

petteacher Wed 04-Dec-13 13:18:52

not too thrilled Is multiple testing the answer?

girliegav Thu 02-Jan-14 21:02:08

Seems pointless to grade at 5 years old.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 03-Jan-14 01:21:11

Stupid ideas hmm

Sencho Tue 07-Jan-14 10:05:54

I'm a primary school teacher of 15 years. It breaks my heart to think that I am going to have to label children even more than we already do. Guaranteed that parents will stand on the playground at 9:05 with the letter in their hand feeling either gutted that their child is told they are in the bottom 10%, or awkward because their child is ranked at the top. This WILL NOT raise standards, it is just yet another measure based on political motives (ie we are a good government because we inform parents about their child's education) which will result in arguing, sadness and hysterical children. I'm no even going to mention it to parents unless I really have to - talk about killing the motivation for children. Politicians have no idea how children learn, develop or grow. It is simply about votes at the polling booth and brainwashing people outside of education, who through no fault of their own, do not really understand how learning works, into voting for them. I've had inspectors observe me over the years who literally have no idea what they are talking about. They should be listening to the people in the ground, the teachers, not us listening to them. I used to be terrified of inspectors - now I stand my corner and speak up. They are going to ruin education in the U.K.

Rank and yank is growing in prevalence across employers. Ghastly and totally destroys commitment and trust.

This talk of ranking our children at 11 is pointless and sinister. To what end?

sats are bad enough. Do we really want to have all the joy of learning and being creative stamped out of our future generations by labelling half as below average? I've counted four people on this thread who are in favour. Let's flex our collective muscles and get mnhq to do a poll. They'll listen to that!

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:22:24

I hate the idea of ranking. What's wrong with being told they are at level 3/4/5/6 whatever? Everyone knows they're exceptional at level 6 and below average at level 3 from private discussions at parents evening. What the bloody hell does it matter what their peers are doing? What are they going to do, feed the bottom 5% to the lions? You can see how well the school has done from the school results.

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:23:42

Rank and yank is growing in prevalence across employers. Ghastly and totally destroys commitment and trust.

I agree it's appalling. Happening in the civil service. Someone could be brilliant at their job and still at the bottom, because by definition someone has to be at the bottom. These people don't understand basic maths.

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:24:32

First thing I would do as an MP would be to ban that as an unscrupulous employment practice.

mrz Sat 01-Feb-14 07:28:21
LoveMyKidsLoads Mon 03-Feb-14 18:10:54

Roll on the election I say...

rollonthesummer Mon 03-Feb-14 18:15:11

Who to vote for though?!

PottyLottie123 Tue 18-Feb-14 23:37:40

Good assessment should be used to inform planning of teaching and learning and to inform parents. It also should measure progress, but measure each child's individual progress, not rank them against one another. I can't believe that I've heard said and seen written the term "re-sit" applied to 5 year-olds who didn't "make the grade" in their phonics test. Does this not ring alarm bells for teachers? Back in the day when I was at school as a pupil and dinosaurs roamed the earth (I taught for 17 years before having children and am an "older mum"!) re-sits were what you did at 16 or 18 if you failed your 'O' or 'A' levels.................what are we doing to the youngest children at our primary schools and when do teachers have time to teach anything???? My DD's Y6 teacher reassured me that they will be teaching them how to do the tests from now 'til the SATs papers in May. She didn't want to have to do that, but that's the pressure they are under and the Head agrees with it. Fun and teaching over at school for my DD until mid May! Standards are not rising, despite mountains of statistics and testing.
You can squeeze a lemon until the pips pop out, but you don't get any more juice........................rant over.

Mashabell Wed 19-Feb-14 17:06:35

Standards are not rising, despite mountains of statistics and testing.
Indeed. They can't for as long as English spelling remains as it is.

The kids sit the tests, but it's really the schools that are being tested - in the hope that this will make teachers drive the kids harder to improve their reading and writing, and thus overall attainment too. (Nobody can learn much else without learning to read and write first.)

This has been getting worse and worse over the past 30 years, without making the slightest difference. It can't because English spelling remains as rotten as it has been for centuries, and learning to read and write remains as difficult and takes as long as it ever did, and therefore partially or totally defeats as many kids as it has done since time immemorial.

The only way to enable more children to learn to read and write well is to make learning to read and write easier, by making English spelling more sensible. But nearly all adults who have managed to become competent readers and writers, despite the inconsistencies of English spelling, are opposed to this. It's completely insane.

TheGruffalo2 Wed 19-Feb-14 19:08:19


sam1513 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:54:59

totally agree, Im sick of testing and comparing in ks1, ifit's in reception and earlier it will be detrimental to a child's education. The fun, enjoyment of school will be gone. My children are very different, the best thing they've always had is choice. I was told that my child age 4 always wants to do something different or do it a different way to how she's been told to. Is that wrong?? I want my children to play, learn explore, to do things I don't have time for due to work commitment s.
You only get one shot, why spoil it from the start..

Elibean Mon 03-Mar-14 16:31:19

Whoever thought up the whole 'ranking' thing has not got a clue about how to motivate healthy human beings. Honestly. Shocking angry

LindseyLM Tue 04-Mar-14 14:06:29

The history of the 100m. London 2012 all finishers under 10 secs, 20 yrs before 1 man went under 10secs - 10yrs before that the winning time wouldn't have even made 2012 semi's. Why the improvement ? Because the best drive the rest to get better - all sports prove the fact that improvement for all comes by pushing the top upwards so everyone else has to do more just to stay with them.

I'm all for modelling education more along sporting lines because life is fundamentally competitive - those who deny that are living in some Laura Ashley wallpapered cuckoo land. However the key thing about sport and where it differs from this proposal is that you always have the opportunity to challenge the top again - fail this time, then train hard, line up next year and go again. Unfortunately, the govt proposal means once labelled there is little chance of getting out and you cannot have that.

Children need the headroom to be everything they are capable of being. Any restriction or ceiling on their development can not be good and unfortunately they develop at different rates and have different interests. Working with similarly able children is a good thing in many ways, but unfortunately without the room to move, on it's own it will be divisive.

Mashabell Wed 05-Mar-14 07:03:03

I'm all for modelling education more along sporting lines because life is fundamentally competitive
U can make it so, but it does not have to be, and there is plenty of evidence that co-operation achieves far better results.

In the UK testing of pupils has greatly intensified over the past 3 decades and perhaps this has helped to push the top end up a little further. (Evidence from international comparisons suggest that our top pupils do as well or better than those in other countries.)

Sadly, this has done nothing whatsoever to raise overall attainment - no more than improvements in sporting performance at the top have encouraged more people to take up sport, or have helped reduce obesity. We now simply have a wider gap between the best and worst.

The UK's main educational problem remains underperformance at the lower end of the ability range, which is very costly for the individuals concerned and the country as a whole. Competition is totally useless for addressing this. Areas which still have many grammar schools have far worse overall educational attainment than those which are more comprehensive.

Elibean Wed 05-Mar-14 11:16:51

The problem with comparing education to sport is this: yes, the best drive the good to do better - in both, up to a point. But there is a lot of fall out.

Those who are not motivated by competition (and they definitely exist - there are personality types, and society needs to have room for all of them) can find other arenas and avoid sport. But they can't, and shouldn't, avoid education.

It's too narrow a way to look at human beings, society, and education IMO.

Unless 'survival of the fittest' is what you aim for, pure and simple.

LindseyLM Thu 06-Mar-14 09:44:30

Mashabell & Elibean The published results from tests over the last 3 decades went up every single year and we have more people in University than ever before - because of this strange desire for everyone to appear to succeed or not to fail. There was no focus on the top at all - it was all about getting more passes - and the top level has fallen vs international competition. The testing in this country has been very misleading and fairly pointless. Meanwhile the Emerging Markets focus on the top and strive for excellence and because their labour markets are so incredibly competitive and their welfare systems so lacking, everyone else has to try harder.

Your point about Grammar schools is factually incorrect. In fact the only age group where our country scored in the top 24 vs international competition was over 55's when Grammar schools underpinned the education system.

The improvements in sport have meant the average player/athlete is now as good as a very good athlete of 30 yrs ago - and that's progress in anyone's language. However I agree that it doesn't necessarily improve the number of people taking up sports - but improvement and participation are 2 entirely different things.

Whether we like it or not the education system is competitive - you might like to pretend that it's not but it is. Some people might not like competition, even though it is all around us (not just in sport) but it is a fact in education. As a general rule better results = better chances of a better job = competitive. So there will be fall out as there is in every competition - winners & losers - 2 people go for a job and there's a winner and a loser. Unfortunately we don't like to think there will be losers - but there are.

The examples from other countries show that (like sport) a focus on pushing the top will improve overall standards - you just need to look at Asia for proof. Top improves, middle improves and bottom improves.

The underlying concern is what about the people who aren't as capable (and there will always be people less capable in everything we do).
Is it fair to pull back the rest or starve them of the attention they need to be as good as they can be ? No it's not fair on either the individual or the country as a whole.
Is it fair to force a child who isn't a natural athlete to become a runner, or a child without natural co-ordination to become a footballer. No - it's not fair on the child. So why do it with education - why force them to be something they are not. Far better to spend our time finding what they are good at and let them flourish.

katerood Fri 07-Mar-14 21:59:17

I am fed up with the direction education is taking. It isn't working.Testing doesn't work, it only helps them to learn how to pass the tests. SATs are ruining my child's real education, it narrows it right down. England has a bad reputation, is spending more yet gets no better results. The government keeps on doing the same things - it's time for a turn around. It's time us parents made a stance and stop letting them do this, the government doesn't seem to have any plans to change anything for the better. "The UK ranked 32nd according to the percentage of children who report feeling happy at school", at the end of the day you learn better if you're happy. Children have few rights in this country, they aren't listened to. They deserve a happier and healthier school system.

KitKins Thu 13-Mar-14 12:15:59

Atrocious idea. The children know who is in which band and that is exactly where the psychological damage is done.

luvmy3kids Sat 29-Mar-14 20:19:35

I'm not completely against some banding, but not until A levels. it's disgusting at 11.

Some grouping is necessary to help schools to cater to different ability levels, but nothing so regimented

mrz Sun 30-Mar-14 10:57:22
hels71 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:10:21

I despair.............whatever next...............................

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 11:47:17

I did do with my dd reading, visiting library, nursery rhymes, educational toys and so on as well as looking after their daily diet. Even before I was pregnant I had been preparing for my kids' schooling. However my dd was still just not ready for the formal schooling by the age just 4. She loves learning but not in a restrictive formal environment and constantly being tested and made self conscious about her academic ability to reach all the school termly targets so that her teachers can still keep their jobs. She loves playing with other kids, making things, looking for bugs, drawing, writing and singing.

Babies and children even young animals are boned with great desire to learn from their environment and each other. They don't need to be made to want to learn. May be that is one of the problems with many policy makers. Despite being highly academic but never had the chance to develop any common sense and imagination because all that were killed by the time they themselves were just four or five.

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 12:03:26

Forgot to say most children enjoy looking at and touching animals, plants, stones, sand, water and many different types of objects. Kids just love experimenting things all around them. I believe formal schooling too early can really destroy their natural instant to learn.

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 12:53:26

Sorry it s/b "instinct" not "instant"!

Elibean Tue 01-Apr-14 16:00:11

improvement and participation are two entirely different things

Yes, they certainly are. And people can and do benefit from participating even when they aren't very good at something - both in sport and in education.

I'm not against competition per se. Not at all. But I am against a type of competitiveness that narrows the field, and reduces the possibility of participation on every level.

However. I'm more worried about what seems to be happening to Early Years, and the lack of awareness/interest/appreciation the Education Secretary seems to have for what child development experts have to say....

teccx Tue 15-Apr-14 13:01:02

Quite right - more teachers, teaching smaller class sizes is the way forward, not testing! Simply thinking about the 'summer babies' versus September/October 'natural (!) leaders' and the real difference in individual's development, you will know that children develop at different times, depending on so many factors. And then there's the 'gender gap' issue... How can testing be the right way forward? If anything, it will accentuate both of these issues and leave children feeling even less confident…. You can't measure the children, but you could do a better job by spending the money in supporting the teachers in a positive way, in a that develops their ability to teach well.

housemad Sun 20-Apr-14 07:30:30

If you know your dcs will be tested as soon as they put a foot into the school system. You (many parents) will prepare your kids to make sure your dcs are not disadvantaged by prejudice because of lower scores. So how can such testing present an accurate true picture. The league table already creates much damage and very inaccurate performance measure of many schools. Dd1's school by the league table (if you believe it!) is a very high performing school. However many parents are so disappointed by the time our dcs are into about year 4 and more so in yr5 and yr6. The school (like many high performing school) all the HT cares is the sat results and the top set kids. I don't know if it really bothers him or not despite knowing many of his pupils have tutoring outside school hours. The school's priority is no longer about preparing kids for life but preparing kids sat.
Since in yr5 and more so in yr6 many parents feel that our kids are being treated as more and more like exam monkeys.
It is not entirely the schools or the teachers fault but the obsession of competition between schools and the nc targets against every age and every term. From my parental experience such system only favour early bloomers and wealthier kids.

MariaJenny Sun 20-Apr-14 21:05:16

I bet there's not a child in the land who does not really know it's position in the class by age 11. Even if teachers do their best to hide marks children tell each other. They all know who are the brain boxes of the class and who aren't so I don't expect this will change things.

The one thing most parents want to know on teacher parent evenings is where is their child in the class related to the other children too.

Also some children are very competitive and can benefit if they are vying for the highest marks. They will all be marked by GCSE and A level (and degree if they do one) and ultimately by employers.

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BKay Wed 14-May-14 00:00:16

When reading the new proposals it did nothing short of break my heart. TEACH TEACH TEACH TEACH and help children to reach their own individual potential. In what world is it ever ethical to write a child off at the age of 10. They should be ashamed.

MumTryingHerBest Wed 14-May-14 08:19:54

Does he have shares in some private tuition companies because, at the end of the day, no parent wants to be told that their child, at the age of 11, is below national standards. In fact many parents want to hear that their child is bright (quite rightly so too). This is going to result in increased tuition to buy parents piece of mind that their child does have a future to look forward to.

In the areas where there are still Grammar schools/selective schools, private tuition does a booming trade.

On the back of all the private tuition, standards will appear to rise and the politicians will spin us the line that it was all their own doing as schools have improved under their remit.

What's more, what will the performance measurement at the age of 11 be used for? The child will be moving onto secondary school which will carry out their own assessments. Is this not just duplicating what is already being done?

If it is to be used as a way of assessing the performance of a school, isn't that what Ofsted/SATs do? So again wouldn't this be duplicating what is already being done?

fireflybelle Mon 19-May-14 10:30:00

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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