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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Report calls for end to tests
Exam candidate
Testing for 11 and 14-year-old schoolchildren will be abolished in Wales if the recommendations of an education report are adopted.

A commission appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government has advised that the key stage tests be replaced with teacher assessments and skills tests.

If the findings are accepted, the testing will be optional from next year, with the exams phased out completely by 2008.

The assembly government is yet to decide whether to implement the recommendations of the committee, which was chaired by Professor Richard Daugherty.

Tests for seven-year-olds in Wales were abolished three years ago.

If the Daugherty recommendations are introduced, the remaining key stage tests would also be scrapped in Wales.

We are pleased that Wales is leading the way in finding appropriate ways to assess our young people
Gethin Lewis, NUT Cymru

Instead of facing the current key stage tests at 11, the review says children should be tested in numeracy, literacy and problem-solving skills at 10 with teacher assessment at 11.

Testing at 14 should be replaced with further teacher assessment before children choose their GCSE subjects.

The committee's chairman, Professor Daugherty, said: "What the group has tried to do, by reviewing all the evidence we could find and taking the best available advice, is to learn from the experience of the past 10 years.

'Valuable review'

"We have concluded that some features of the current arrangements, such as assessment by teachers at the end of each key stage, should be retained but strengthened.

"Other features, such as the core subject tests taken at the same time as teachers are making their assessments, should be phased out."

Welsh Education Minister, Jane Davidson, welcomed the report.

Jane Davidson
Jane Davidson will consider the report's findings

She added: "This has been an extremely valuable review for the future of assessment in our schools.

"It is of critical importance that our assessment processes conform to the best possible professional standards.

"I shall be considering the final report with great care.

"It makes an important contribution to the advice and evidence I shall need to weigh in making decisions about the future of the assessment regime."

Teachers' union NUT Cymru said the report echoes many of the union's views on testing.

NUT Cymru Secretary, Gethin Lewis said: "We agree with the minister that this is a progressive and substantial report.

"In our presentation to the review committee, NUT Cymru said there is nothing wrong with testing and assessment, so long as they help teaching and learning.

"National Curriculum tests do not help teaching and learning.

"They have become the ends instead of the means.

"It appears to us that the Daugherty's report confirms our view.

"We are pleased that Wales is leading the way in finding appropriate ways to teach, assess and develop the learning skills of our young people."

But the Westminster government is unmoved by the arguments.

England's School Standards Minister, David Miliband, said it was important to have independent, objective, national benchmarks of success at age 11.

Studies showed that children who did well at 11 would do well in their GCSEs five years later, and were more likely to stay in education.

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