Plans to make pupils resit Sats axed
Plans to make all children who fail tests at the end of primary school sit them again in secondary have been scrapped in a government U-turn.
The plans had sparked outrage from teachers who feared some children would be labelled as failures on arrival at secondary school.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said instead children would be offered support to catch up lost ground.
She also assured teachers no new tests would be introduced before 2018.
Additionally, the spelling and grammar test for seven-year-olds introduced in 2015-16 is to remain non-compulsory for schools next year.
The changes come after a difficult academic year for the Department for Education over assessment.
As new tests were introduced, teachers complained materials and information were slow to materialise and there were a number of leaks live test material.
In a written statement, Ms Greening said: "Summer 2016 saw the first pupils taking the new assessments in English and mathematics at the end of primary school.
"They were set against the new national curriculum, which has been benchmarked against what the highest-performing countries around the world are teaching their children.
"As a result, the new assessments rightly raised the bar on what we expect pupils to have been taught by the age of 11, better preparing them for secondary school and beyond."
But she said teachers had risen to that challenge with 66% of pupils meeting or exceeding the new "expected standard" in reading, 70% in maths and 74% in writing
Ms Greening said: "The pace and scale of these changes has been stretching.
"Our objective is to make sure that children are ready for the next stage of their education.
"We know, and Ofsted inspectors understand, that the 2016 assessments and results mark a break with the past and are not comparable with the preceding years."
In recognition of this, Ms Greening said no school would face any intervention, such as being taken over and turned into an academy, on the basis of these results alone.
On the climb down over Year 7 resits, she said: "Rather, we will focus on the steps needed to ensure a child catches up lost ground.
"High-quality resit papers will be made available for teachers to use if they wish, as part of their ongoing assessments.
"In addition, we will introduce a targeted package of support to make sure that struggling pupils are supported by teachers to catch up in year 7."
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "Under the Tories parents and teachers are struggling to navigate their way through the government's constant chopping and changing to exams and assessments.
"The chaos surrounding results year on year is creating confusion for parents, who are struggling to identify how to support their child to improve, and extra bureaucracy for school leaders and teachers, who are finding it extremely difficult to plan ahead to ensure high quality education for children."
Kim Johnson, president of National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Secondary leaders will welcome the government's plans to halt planned resits of Sats in Year 7.
"These tests would not have helped children or teachers."
Christine Keates, head of the Nasuwt teaching union, said: "It appears that the Secretary of State has now recognised the real challenges around statutory end of key-stage assessment.
"The recognition that there were problems with the 2015/16 data, and that because of this no schools should face harsh sanctions solely on the basis of that data, is a welcome step towards relieving the pressure and anxiety some schools have been experiencing."