Recently MPs debated the key stage 2 (SATs) results which were published last week. Labour’s new Shadow Secretary for Education, Angela Rayner, opened the debate by expressing disappointment that the government has “pushed ahead with chaotic and confusing reforms which mean that thousands of children will be unnecessarily labelled as failures”. She described the expected standard for the new assessments as being “unrealistic” and argued that teachers and school leaders say that the expected standard was beyond the reach of the majority of children. Rayner also raised concerns that the results are already being used by regional schools commissioners to identify schools to target for academy conversion.
In response Nicky Morgan, in one of her last appearances as Secretary of State for Education, said that Rayner’s speech had “captured everything that is wrong with the Labour Party at the moment: mad conspiracy theories, deferring to the unions and zero answers to the problems facing this country”. Morgan emphasised that the new SATs are intended to hold schools not children to account, and pointed out that progress with also be taken into account when judging whether a school is below the floor standard. She disagreed that last week’s results have led to some children being labelled as “failures” and suggested that they will allow secondary schools to identify children who might need extra support in the core subjects. However, she did acknowledge that “in the first year of these tests being rolled out, the administration was not as smooth as it could have been” and said that the government had already apologised for this.