The majority of Britons support current testing in primary schools – and more support plans to rank children against national averages than oppose
Nick Clegg has announced plans to increase testing in primary schools, and to give parents and teachers indications of how children are ranked in performance compared to the national average. Teaching Unions have been outraged, and one critic speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme has said that “we seem to think testing is the answer to everything, and it’s not.” New YouGov research finds that the majority of the public think current tests in primary schools are a good thing, and more support the government’s plans to change current performance measures than oppose.
The majority (62%) of British adults support SATs - the current primary school tests children sit at around the age of eleven - and only two in ten (21%) oppose them while 17% ‘don’t know.’ Significantly less (55%) Labour voters support them than Conservatives (78%) however.
At present tests are marked using attainment levels, which compare children to broad levels they are expected to reach by that age. But more (41%) support the government’s plans to measure performance against bands, so that parents and teachers can judge which ten percentile their children sit in compared to the national average. Again, far less (31%) Labour voters support the plans than do Conservative voters (61%).
The leader of the National Union of Teachers has warned that the government’s plans to measure a school’s success on whether 85% of five-year olds pass new, tougher “baseline” tests will “doom many of them to failure.” The deputy Prime Minister however has said the government is not seeking to turn schools into “exam sausage factories.”