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Teachers Refuse to Test 4 Year Olds

View profile for Andrew Barrowclough
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A recent article in the Telegraph raises interesting issues regarding whether testing young primary school children in England is beneficial or necessary. 

About 2,000 schools have refused to take parts in tests for four year olds as unions argue the tests are completely redundant. Teachers are actually going further than this to state that testing at age four is making children tearful and could be damaging. These reactions are in response to new guidance issued by the government which came into place in September 2015 to test a child’s reading, writing and maths upon entry into reception class. The purpose of this new optional testing is to chart a pupil’s progress throughout 7 years of primary school to hold schools accountable for a pupil’s progress.

As expert special educational law solicitors, our HCB team consider that whilst over-testing is an issue in our team’s experience the bigger issue is that failing children are still slipping through the system. More robust strategies are needed to spot children who are failing to make progress during primary school and such scientific testing would help. The difficulty with teacher assessment evaluation ‘on the job’ is that there are 30 children in the class and such a subjective determination rarely takes into account the discrepancy that can exist between a child’s intelligence and attainment. Children with special educational needs (dyslexia and dyscalculia in particular) start from a low baseline of attainment and they do not catch up. If additional tests can help to recognise that such children are failing at an earlier stage then they are highly likely to be very valuable.

Due to the abolition of the Graduated Response in England (further to the Children and Families Act 2014) schools can no longer use the School Action or School Action Plus guidance to note a child’s difficulties in responding to intervention. Standardised testing would assist with this monitoring issue. The abolition of National Curriculum levels also means that schools have no idea where a child is attaining so they need more testing to help them chart childrens’ progress. Without more primary school testing it is difficult to understand how teachers or parents are supposed to monitor whether a child is making expected progress with their education. In our expert education law solicitor team’s opinion therefore more testing would be helpful - anything that assists parents whose children have special educational needs (which may be as yet undiagnosed) navigate through the SEN maze is to be welcomed.

If you have concerns regarding a lack of appropriate monitoring or testing being implemented by your child’s school then please do contact one of our specialist education law solicitors today on 02920 291704.