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NAHT comment on publication of primary school performance tables

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Schools make incredible efforts to guarantee that every child gets the best possible start in life.

“For their troubles, each year they find themselves propelled to the top or condemned to the bottom of a league table based solely on a few short tests of young children in a small number of subjects. This entirely wrong, so we shouldn’t celebrate too loudly, or berate too strongly.

“Whilst we all know that pupils need to develop their skills in numeracy and literacy, test and exam results are only part of the picture when judging a school’s performance or a pupil’s success. SATs results and league tables provide nothing more than a snapshot, and yet the impact on schools, as well as the teachers and children within them, is hard to overestimate. 

“NAHT would like to see less testing in Primary schools overall, leaving more time and space for a broad range of subjects and activities in the school day so that children’s opportunities are not limited.

“Successive governments have raised the stakes when it comes to SATs and league tables. Whilst the results have always carried a high level of importance, over time the pressure surrounding them has increased. One year’s dodgy data can make an effective school leader suddenly feel very vulnerable. A system built on this sort of fear is not a healthy one.

“NAHT has been working with the DfE for many months on securing improvements to the primary assessment and accountability regime. We have consistently pressed for the use of three-year averages in performance tables, and significantly, this year will be the first where a three-year average for attainment is used for primary schools which is a step in the right direction."

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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