6 important primary school tests your child may have to take

New rules could mean children as young as 4 could be taking school tests - but what can you expect?


The Government has expressed concerns that young children are not being well enough assessed on their progress in primary school and that there needs to be stricter testing in the basics, such as maths, literacy and science.


While some standardised tests for younger children were dropped from English schools in 2004, it looks as though they could be coming back as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan starts a review of primary-school testing.

This includes the possibility of bringing in more rigorous national testing for 7-year-olds. New tests are set to be brought in for 4-to-5-year olds in 2016, too.

What tests will my child have to do?

We’ve outlined five tests primary-school children might be required to take:

  •  4-to-5 year olds: (NEW) Baseline check: From 2016, English pupils will be given a “check” in basic literacy, reasoning and cognition at the earliest time possible in Reception. This will be used to see how each child is doing at the start of his or her school life and to identify those who may need help if they’re struggling. The check will also serve as a benchmark, so teachers can compare each child’s attainment at the end of primary school with the results of their check in Reception and see how much progress they’ve made over those 7 years. 
  • 5-to-6 year olds: Phonics check: phonics is a method of helping children to learn how to read and spell and, at the end of Year 1, your child takes a test, usually one-to-one with their teacher, where they will have to read out words (some real words and some made-up) to see if they have a grasp of phonics or if they need more assistance. More about phonics
  • 7-year-olds: Externally marked SATs: Currently, all 7-year-olds in English schools take teacher-marked SATs in maths, English and science. The new proposals are that these tests should now be marked externally, and the school’s test scores sent to the Government so it can identify “coasting” schools. Note: These will become optional from 2023.
  • 11-year-olds: (REVISED) SATs: These tests in English (reading, grammar, spelling, punctuation) maths and science will remain a key way to test children but, in 2016, the tests will become tougher. If you want to know what to expect, we have an example from one of the new-style exam papers.
  • 11-year-olds: (NEW) Times tables tests: These will be piloted in some areas in 2016 and then introduced nationwide in 2017.
  • 12-year-olds: (NEW) SATs resits: From next year also, all pupils in England who have failed their Year 6 SATs, apart from those with special needs, will have to retake them once they have started secondary school.  

It’s worth remembering that everything that comes up in the tests will have been taught as part of what your child is learning at school, so there should be no big surprises.

And for the new starters taking the baseline check: this will only be used by teachers as recording one facet of each child’s progress; teachers will also take into account classroom interactions and everyday observations to get a good picture of how your little one’s doing.

What do you think?

Is there too much testing too young in schools these days? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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