SCHOOL tests should be drastically cut back, it was claimed today.
The Sats tests need to be reduced as the pressure to meet Government targets has denied children their right to a rounded education, MPs warned today in a damning report.
And Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who chairs the Commons schools select committee, condemned the “widespread” practice of teachers drilling pupils to pass their tests.
He and other MPs demanded an inquiry into “grade inflation” amid concerns that test results may exaggerate the true standards of education that children reach.
The committee warned that the Government’s planned reforms, which will see pupils tested more often instead of at fixed ages, risk causing even more damage to education.
The report came as 1.2 million 11 and 14-year-olds across England take their Sats in maths, English and science.
The select committee said: “The system is now out of balance.
“The drive to meet government-set targets has too often become the goal rather than the means to the end of providing the best possible education for all children.
“We received substantial evidence that teaching to the test, to an extent which narrows the curriculum and puts sustained learning at risk, is widespread,” the MPs said.
“While the Government has allocated resources to tackle this phenomenon and improve practice, they fail to accept the extent to which teaching to the test exists and the damage it can do to a child’s learning.
“The way that many teachers have responded to the Government’s approach to accountability has meant that test results are pursued at the expense of a rounded education for children.”
The committee warned that the current system had become so distorted that national results, used every year to measure school standards in England, were not fit for purpose.
Mr Sheerman said: “I am looking at three main planks that have dominated education for the past 20 years – the Sats, the National Curriculum and school inspections.
“Schools have much higher standards now than they did 20 years ago but there is evidence that there are unintentional consequences of those improvements. Students are only taught what teachers think will get them through the next set of tests and are being denied the broad sweep of education.
“It applies to all the age ranges and we have a system of teaching to the test. What we should be looking at is how we can educate children and our schools to the whole breadth of the National Curriculum.
“We have got to trust our teachers to a greater extent.”