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National Curriculum Tests

Volume 480: debated on Friday 17 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the evidential basis is for his Department's statement that higher national key stage test results are not a result of teaching to the test, as stated on page 3 of the Government response to the Third Report of the Children, Schools and Families Committee, HC 1003; and if he will make a statement. (227210)

Standards in our schools are rising, and we do not accept that this is the result of teaching to the test. Results have improved significantly since 1997 for 11 and 14-year-olds, and those results are in turn reflected in higher GCSE results.

The public can have complete faith in the rigour of our testing and examination system which is overseen independently and impartially by the new regulator, Ofqual. School performance is inspected by the independent Ofsted, school examinations set by the independent Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and educational statistics produced and overseen by the Office for National Statistics, now given even greater independence by this Government.

We are gathering evidence about teaching to the test, and exploring whether excessive time is spent on test preparation. The expert group that my hon. Friend the Secretary of State has brought together to advise on the changes to assessment announced on 14 October will also be looking at the advice to be provided to schools to ensure that preparation for national curriculum tests at Key Stage 2 is proportionate, educationally appropriate, and that the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum is not inhibited.