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National Curriculum Tests

Question for Department for Education

UIN 723, tabled on 11 May 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) educational value and (b) impact on children and schools of proceeding with SATS in the 2021-22 year in the context of disruption resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

20 May 2022

The department recognises that pupils will have missed a critical period of their learning due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Statutory assessments at the end of key stage 2 are an important part of our primary education system. Assessments provide vital information to parents about their child’s attainment and help schools identify where additional support is best targeted to individuals. The school performance measures generated from these assessments play an important role in supporting schools to improve, helping us to hold primary schools to account for the education they provide.

This year, the data from the assessments will help parents, schools, and the department to understand more clearly the impact of the pandemic on pupils and how this varies between particular groups of pupils, schools and local authorities. The decision to return to a full programme of primary assessments in the 2021/22 academic year was considered carefully and in taking this decision, we discussed our plans with a range of stakeholders, including teachers, school leaders and unions.

The department knows that the pandemic has impacted the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and will have an impact in the longer-term. The department expects leaders and teachers to consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing as a priority and identify those who may need additional support.

Although schools should encourage all pupils to work hard and achieve well, the department does not recommend that they devote excessive preparation time to assessment, and certainly not at the expense of pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. Schools should support a culture of wellbeing amongst staff and pupils.