Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me regarding assessments for primary school children.
I firmly believe that children should receive the best possible primary education to prepare them for later life. I am also very aware of the impact that the school closures have had on children including on their learning, development, and mental health. Ministers are committed to ensuring that no child is left behind and all pupils receive the necessary support they need.
I understand your concerns regarding the assessments that primary school children must take including the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) and SATs. However, I believe that these assessments are crucial to ensuring that great schools are recognised and help to improve those that can learn from others.
As I understand it, assessments such as the RBA are used to inform the way that the Department for Education measures progress that primary school pupils make. I have been assured that no preparation is required from pupils, and data from the assessment will only be used once children reach the end of primary school. The information will not be used to judge, track, or label individual pupils.
Similarly, although they have been cancelled for the 2020/21 academic year, SATs taken by Year Six pupils are important for accountability and help the Department for Education understand which schools are falling below expected levels of progress. Furthermore, it enables teachers to see how their pupils are performing in relation to national expectations and allows them to provide extra support for individuals where required.
I very much welcome the vast amount of additional support that has been provided to teachers and schools during the pandemic. This includes a £79 million funding boost for mental health teams at schools and colleges. The most disadvantaged children will also benefit from the £350 million National Tutoring Programme which has been expanded by £83 million, to provide additional, targeted support for those children that need the most help.
I will continue to monitor this issue closely, ensuring that all primary school assessments are carried out fairly and with the utmost consideration for the pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Craig Whittaker MP