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Schools: National Curriculum Tests 2009

Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 8 July 2009


My honourable friend the Minister of State for Schools and Learners (Vernon Coaker) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Strong accountability is essential if we are to help every child to succeed. The Expert Group on Assessment reported that high levels of school accountability are beneficial for everyone who has a stake in the education system, including pupils, parents and the taxpayer.

Externally marked tests play an important role in our accountability system. The expert group confirmed in its report that external validation of pupils’ performance is vital and that national curriculum tests remain the best way of providing objective information on the performance of each pupil and each school.

I am pleased that the great majority of results of 2009 test results, 99.9 per cent, were made available to schools yesterday as planned. Results have successfully been made available to pupils across all subjects, with 99.87 per cent of results available in English, 99.98 per cent in mathematics and 99.85 per cent in science. We will build on this next year and QCA will seek to award a single-year contract for test delivery in 2010, which is similar in shape to this year.

I can confirm that tests in 2010 will take place as planned in the week commencing 10 May. Having taken account of QCA and Ofqual’s advice, we will seek to implement the expert group’s recommendation on moving the test to mid-June in 2011. This will help to strengthen transition arrangements for year 6 pupils; it will also help to embed our Assessment for Learning strategy and the role of teacher assessment.

The efficient delivery of national curriculum tests and implementation of expert group recommendations play an important part in ensuring that a robust accountability system recognises all school outcomes, providing the greatest possible benefit to children, parents and the public.