Support for decision to scrap Sats for seven-year-olds | Letters

James Smith believes the focus of primary school should be on building relationships and a love of learning, Tony Roberts addresses a crisis in teaching and Colin Richards says four-year-olds will sabotage efforts to measure progress

I welcome Justine Greening’s decision to abolish compulsory examinations at the end of key stage 2 (Greening scraps compulsory tests at age seven, 15 September). While Sats measure academic ability, they do not take into account the fact that children’s brains develop at varying rates. Furthermore, the focus of primary school should be on building relationships and forming a love of learning. With that in place, pupils will be better equipped for the rigours of secondary education than they would had they been coached excessively for exams.

Sats, for all their benefits, have gaping flaws. Pupils and teachers are put under unjustifiable pressure to meet their grade targets, which sadly often comes at the expense of teaching a broad and enjoyable syllabus. However, that is not to say progress should not be tracked during primary years. The correct setting of students in year 7, according to ability, aids learning through enabling teachers to address gaps in understanding and, in the case of the more able, to challenge pupils to develop their skills with the intention of reaching their potential in the new, more robust, GCSEs. A consultation at the end of key stage 2 between parents and teachers would be a credible alternative, ultimately serving everyone better.
James Smith
(Teacher of English), Liverpool

• Tricia Bracher’s prescient piece on the crisis in teaching (With this tickbox fetish, no wonder we’re losing teachers, 13 September) nails a key issue: the void between schools and those who govern them. Teaching needs to be hard work is their view. Teaching is hard work. Good teaching should be hard work as long as it is teaching and not endless tickboxes, written planning and accommodating curriculum changes. Lack of adequate funding and a refusal to accept that professionals need to be treated as such will continue the sorry saga that often passes for education today.
Tony Roberts
Preston, Lancashire

• In its decisions about primary school accountability, the government is replacing one testing monstrosity by an even more monstrous one. Testing at age seven is problematic and hence its abolition is welcome, but testing young children on entry to school at age four or five is even more flawed, unreliable and unrealistic.

As every grandparent knows, four-year-olds are notoriously and gloriously mercurial and unpredictable. With these qualities they will undoubtedly sabotage efforts to establish a reliable and valid baseline test and with it the government’s vain attempt to “measure” progress from age four to 11.
Professor Colin Richards
(Former HM inspector of schools), Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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