The chief inspector of Ofsted has called for the reintroduction of National Curriculum tests at the end of Key Stage 3.
Giving his annual report, Sir Michael Wilshaw said it had been a mistake to abolish the tests for 14-year-olds and that tests for seven-year-olds should be externally moderated.
Sir Michael insisted it is necessary for those in education jobs to monitor children's progress at different stages of their development if Britain's schools are to compete with the best in the world. His remarks come after the latest Pisa rankings showed the UK had failed to improve relative to other developed countries.
SATS were abolished in 2008 by then education secretary Ed Balls, following a marking scandal. The administrator of the tests, ETS Europe, had its contract terminated after concerns over quality and delays in results.
"Talk to any good head teacher and they will tell you it was a mistake to abolish those tests. That's because good teachers use those tests to make sure every child learns well," Wilshaw said.
The chief inspector claimed that research showed some in-house testing may be unreliable, after it was discovered that infant schools have better results than primary schools, which teach four to eleven year-olds, at the end of Key Stage 1.
According to the data, primary schools are diverting resources to older pupils, which has led to a reduction in the progress of their younger peers. The reintroduction of tests would serve to speed up learning, Sir Michael claimed.
"With the proposed abandonment of national curriculum levels, it is vital that children's progress and outcomes are benchmarked at regular intervals in their school career," he added.
The latest Ofsted report showed that England's schools are slowly improving, but a divide has opened up between regions. The chance of a pupil attending a good or outstanding school was found to be vastly different depending on where they live.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels.