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National Curriculum Tests

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what risks the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has identified in Key Stage 2 test delivery in 2009; and if he will make a statement; (248150)

(2) what risks have been identified in Key Stage 2 test administration in 2009; and if he will make a statement

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is responsible for the administration of the key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests. The QCA has assessed the overall risks for the delivery in 2009. The QCA has engaged additional support to identify, categorise and mitigate as much as possible, operational risks as they arise. In line with Lord Sutherland’s recommendations on risk management, the QCA has reviewed and strengthened its risk management and escalation processes to provide greater visibility not only of the cause and effect of risks, but active monitoring of the planning, implementation and effect of mitigations and contingencies.

The Department has also further strengthened its existing governance arrangements and will closely monitor delivery arrangements for the 2009 test cycle, ensuring that the Department is able to both challenge and support the QCA to secure successful delivery of the 2009 test cycle. The new supplier, Edexcel, has a strong track record in delivery of tests and exams. The Department will be publishing a full response to Lord Sutherland’s report later this month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of schools will be taking the Key Stage 3 tests in 2009; and on what date a communication was sent to schools asking them about their participation in the tests; and if he will make a statement. (249439)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced on 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 673, that Key Stage 3 (KS3) national curriculum tests would no longer be a statutory obligation. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is responsible for the administration of the Key Stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests and for fulfilling orders for optional KS3 national curriculum tests.

At 19 January 2009, a total of 3,346 schools had ordered one or more KS3 national curriculum tests for 2009. A total of 4,158 schools ordered KS3 tests in 2008. The QCA has communicated the new arrangements to schools on five separate occasions from 17 October 2008 to 9 December 2008 via its test updates.