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Government 'simplifying primary SATs for 2017'

10/04/2017 Joanna

The government is taking steps to make this year's primary SATs simpler for children, although efforts will be made to ensure the same standards are upheld.

Schools Week reports that the Standards and Testing Agency is responding to feedback pertaining to the difficulty of last year's SATs for ten and 11-year-olds by making the questions in the early part of the test somewhat easier.

The Department for Education said it was "well accepted" that 2016's tests - the first to be introduced as part of a new, more challenging national curriculum - were extremely difficult, with figures indicating that only around half of year 6 pupils met the expected standard in their key stage 2 SATs. This was down from around 80 per cent in 2015, although it was noted that the curriculum changes mean this is not an exact comparison.

Nevertheless, the structure of the test paper is being reviewed to look at ways of improving how questions are sequenced, with the Standards and Testing Agency saying it is keen to make sure that children do not feel discouraged by a surfeit of overly difficult questions in the early parts of the test.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said this change should be welcomed, explaining: "It's a huge advantage for children when they open their test paper and can do the questions at the start - it promotes endeavour and boosts confidence."

This comes as part of a wider effort to shake up the way that primary school students are assessed in the UK, with the government having announced last month that the statutory status of key stage 1 assessments for seven-year-olds is likely to be removed, thereby reducing the burden of testing for teachers and pupils.

Reading, writing, mathematics and science assessments at the end of key stage 1 would become nonstatutory, although schools would still receive test materials to help them benchmark pupils and inform parents.

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