The future of primary school league tables in England is under threat from union action to boycott the tests used to construct the tables.
Over Easter, the National Union of Teachers, which represents a majority of teachers in England’s primary schools, unanimously decided to ballot its members on boycotting next year’s national tests for seven and 11 year olds, creating pressure on the Government to scrap the controversial exams.
It is expected that the National Association of Head Teachers will vote on identical proposals next month.
The teachers want the national tests to be replaced by teacher assessment, and the school league tables – which are based on tests results – scrapped.
The unions say that that the tests damage children’s education because there is too much narrow “teaching to the test”, with pupils cramming for the papers months before they sit them. Other subjects are squeezed out of the curriculum and teachers and pupils are placed under unacceptable pressure, they claim.
More than 600,000 11-year-olds will sit tests in English, maths and science next month. Last year the marking of the tests by the contracting firm collapsed and the firm was subsequently sacked. The crisis led to the decision by the government to scrap tests for 14-year-olds and launch the expert group to look into the future of tests.
The Government is also conducting separate trials into “single level testing”, which tests pupils when teachers think they are ready rather than en masse once a year.