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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?

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

The deciles are an awful idea.


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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