Nicky Morgan to announce introduce robust tests for seven-year-olds


Education Secretary Outlines Plans to Improve Grades

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is looking at more robust tests for seven-year-olds, insisting they must provide a "firm basis" for measuring pupils' academic progress.

In what is billed as her first major policy speech since the election, Mrs Morgan will signal a rethink of Key Stage One evaluations that could see them standardised nationally again.

She will also confirm that a new National Teaching Service (NTS) is being created, recruiting 1,500 of the "brightest and best" teachers by 2020 to work in the toughest schools.

The individuals will stay with schools for up to two years, and receive fast-track promotion opportunities as an incentive to take part in the scheme.

Mrs Morgan will tell an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think-tank that the coalition government "raised standards and heightened expectations".

But she will highlight local authorities such as Knowsley, Salford and Rochdale in the North West where the majority of pupils are still not securing five good GCSEs.

The Cabinet minister will stress the importance of "reception baseline" assessments in reception class and "more rigorous" SATs at the end of primary school.

But she will also point to the importance of having robust tests at age seven. "The Government will be working with head teachers in the coming months on how to get this right, holding schools to account and giving them full credit for the progress they achieve," a Department for Education spokeswoman said.

Standardised national tests for pupils in year two were dropped in 2004, with schools in England given responsibility for assessing levels in literacy, writing, maths and science.

Mrs Morgan will also confirm that children who fail to grasp basic literacy and numeracy at primary school will have to resit tests at secondary.

Ahead of her speech, Mrs Morgan said: "For all we've achieved, too many young people aren't being given a fair shot to succeed because of where they live.

"That's why today I'm announcing the creation of a National Teaching Service - sending some of our best teachers to schools in struggling areas.

"At the same time we're taking further steps to ensure that every pupil masters the three Rs in primary school and studies the core academic subjects in secondary school - ensuring that every young person gets the best start in life."

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said: "For all their talk of standards, the Tories' record on education is poor. Nothing is more important in education than having excellent teachers in all our schools, but this Government has created chronic shortages, with the highest number now quitting the profession since records began and missed recruitment targets year on year.

"Rather than drive up standards, they have created a schools policy that has allowed the attainment gap between poorer children and their peers to widen, teacher shortages particularly in subjects that are key to our country's competitiveness such as English and maths, and pushed post-16 education to a cliff edge, limiting opportunities for the next generation.

"Soaring class sizes also threaten standards with over 100,000 young children now being crammed into large classes, three times as many as in 2010. Their warm words mean nothing when the reality is David Cameron's education policy is holding both our young people and Britain back."

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