Do you agree with formal testing at Primary School?

April 24, 2018 Published by


Should children be formally tested in Primary School?

The issue of testing primary school age children is a controversial one with many children suffering from stress as a result.  Some parents and educators are also anti-formal testing; but is it all bad?

According to a survey cited in the Guardian, eight out of 10 primary school leaders reported an increase in mental health issues among primary school children around the time of the exams.

Teaching unions agree, suggesting that the tests are “not fit for purpose”:

“The SATs tests are ridiculously inappropriate, testing an insane curriculum, causing children harm and have been incompetently administered from the start.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)


She believes that the SATs tests have a negative impact on children’s education; they spend a lot of time in school preparing for SATs – rather than engaging in the full ‘broad and balanced curriculum” – because the teachers feel under pressure from the government.


So why does formal testing still exist?


Formal tests can be a good measure of progress and are used to tell parents, and the government, how well a school is doing. They give the teacher, the school, and the parent valuable feedback on individual children and can be used to identify areas where support is needed. 

The goal of assessment is to help children; the Government views formal tests as an integral part of the drive to raise standards. Previous Government reports using these assessments, reveal that gains have been made in children’s literacy and numeracy levels.


Can we reduce the stress around formal testing?

Primary level exams are a useful way to monitor the school’s performance, but making children aware that these tests have no impact on their future may help reduce anxiety and stress. The exams should be targeted towards assessing what the child has actually learned and not how well they can perform on a test.

Crucially, the pressure needs to be taken off of the teachers – there needs to be a swing back towards enabling educators to deliver a varied, fun and engaging curriculum.

Do you think children should be told their exam scores? Join the discussion over on Facebook and Twitter.

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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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