Primary tests cost £43m last year, minister admits

Janet Downs's picture

National curriculum tests taken in financial year 2018/19 cost around £43m schools minister Nick Gibb has revealed.  The cost breakdown is:

KS1 tests: £4,318,861

KS2 tests: £30,240,602

Phonics Screening Check: £681,399

Centralised costs: £7,733,041. 

Jeremy Corbyn has said a future Labour government would scrap SATs.  This has been welcomed by the NAHT, the ASCL and NEU.

Schools Week said Labour would ‘consult with teachers and parents to develop a more flexible and practical system of assessment that is tailored to individual pupils’.

Schools minister Nick Gibb predictably greeted Labour’s plans with horror.  He accused Corbyn of planning to ‘keep parents in the dark’.  Gibb seems unaware that schools send regular reports to parents detailing children’s achievement.  These do not rely on mandatory national tests but  assessment over time.

Gibb said abolishing Sats was a ‘retrograde step’ which would ‘undo decades of improvement in children’s reading and maths.’ 

‘Under Labour, the government would simply give up on ensuring all our children can read and write by the age of 11,’ he insisted. 

A fallacious conclusion, surely?  Setting up an assessment system after consulting with teachers and parents isn’t giving up on anything.  It’s ensuring assessment is more than taking exams which pander to ministerial prejudices about what Year Six pupils should learn.

Primary tests have no educational value.  They don’t tell teachers anything they don’t already know.  They distort the curriculum.  They place an excessive emphasis on testing.  The government even wants to increase spending on primary tests by introducing baseline assessments. 

£43m is a lot of money to waste on unnecessary exams.


UPDATE 14,04,  The DfE media bot has hit back with a hallf-hearted defence of Sats.   They 'help ensure primary schools are teaching children the fundamentals of reading, writing and maths, and help reassure parents that schools are laying the foundations for their children to succeed at secondary school and beyond.'  Nothing from Gibb, just a link to an article written by education secretary Damian Hinds two months ago about how Sats shouldn't be stressful.


CORRECTION 18 April 2019 08.13:  Typo corrected

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