In his monthly commentary, Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has called for the return of national testing at Key Stage 3 because too many talented disadvantaged pupils are not achieving their full potential at secondary school.
He reported that last year, 68% of non-selective secondary school pupils who had achieved a level 5 or above in both English and mathematics at the end of primary school failed to attain A* or A grades in these subjects at GCSE. In addition, 27% of previously high-attaining pupils failed to achieve the minimum expected progress – a grade B in both these key subjects at GCSE.
A “culture of low expectations” meant thousands of pupils who achieved well at primary school, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, were failing to reach their full potential after the age of 11. Other reasons were:
poor transition arrangements with feeder primary schools
few checks being made on whether the teaching of mixed ability groups was challenging the brightest children sufficiently
disproportionate effort being spent in many schools on getting pupils over the GCSE C/D borderline rather than supporting the most able to secure the top A/A* grades
Wilshaw argued that one of the principal reasons for the gap at secondary school is the absence of any formal testing between the ages of 11 and 16 and he urged the government to consider bringing back external national testing at key stage 3, saying he believed it was a mistake to abolish these tests in the first place.
There was of course a concerted campaign which saw the abolition of the tests back in 2008 and of course there continues to be concern about the amount of testing carried out on English pupils.
Click here to read Sir Michael Wilshaw’s monthly blog in full.