The Conservative Government decided to toughen up testing for primary-age pupils after it emerged that educational standards in the UK are well behind other countries. Right?
But the Sats tests are already controversial as both teachers and parents have protested against them, saying they are turning schools into production lines to ensure our kids provide the right answers, rather than places where the joy of learning can be instilled into young people.
So the Tories have a bit of a PR problem. They can’t go back on their plans to toughen up Sats because then they are letting children go uneducated – but they don’t want to upset parents because these are potential Tory voters.
In those circumstances, does it seem possible that an arrangement could be made to leak the first few tests into the public domain, to bump up scores without upsetting parents?
The only problem would be the possibility that such a leak would be discovered by people who believe tests should be administered fairly – but would that occur to a Conservative MP?
History tends to show that they don’t understand fairness very well.
Cheating, on the other hand, is something they seem to understand perfectly.
The Department for Education suffered a second major embarrassment over its controversial exams for primary school pupils, after answers for a test due to be sat by all 10- and 11-year-olds in England were leaked online.
Nearly 600,000 year 6 state school pupils are to sit the test of spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) on Tuesday, but it emerged that both the test paper and its answers were posted to a website the day before by the department’s contractor, Pearson.
The error means that the answers – such as lists of words pupils were to be asked to spell – could have easily been downloaded, copied and distributed a day ahead of the crucial test, potentially allowing parents and teachers to teach pupils the correct answers.
Labour accused the education department of compromising the test, which was already a subject of national protests last week by parents concerned that primary-age pupils were being placed under too much pressure, and authors including Philip Pullman claimed the tests were too demanding.
It is the second time in just the space of three weeks that the department has been embarrassed in its attempts to impose tougher Spag tests on primary school pupils.
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