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Government Cancels This Year’s KS1 Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Test

Nick Gibb confirms that test due to be taken by around 500,000 pupils this year is to be pulled, following accidental publication of live test paper on government website

  • Government Cancels This Year’s KS1 Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Test

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has announced that schools will not be required to carry out the KS1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test this year.

It emerged earlier this week that a live KS1 spelling test paper had been accidentally published alongside practice papers on the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) website. The error was first spotted at a school in south-east England, one of around 700 piloting the test, after a pupil appeared to recognise the questions.

The pupil’s teacher then checked the STA website, and found that the same test had been made available as a practice paper since 26th January this year. Another teacher at the school, Charlotte Smiles, subsequently notified the STA by telephone.

Appearing on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, Smiles recalled that,“I was told they would look into it and get back to me. About two or three hours later they rang me back to ask me where I’d seen this paper, because they couldn’t find it – so I directed them to the right place on their website, and was met with ‘Oh, yes, that is the live test paper for 2016.”

Nick Gibb has since announced in a public statement that as well as ordering the Standards and Testing Agency to undertake a full investigation of the leak, he has also commissioned a full “Root and branch inquiry into the operations of the STA.”

The statement goes on to explain that, “Schools will still need to submit a teacher assessment judgement based on pupils’ work in the classroom as has always been the case. However there will be no requirement this year for them to administer the KS1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test, or use the result as part of that assessment.

“This is a clearly regrettable incident and I am sorry for any concern it has caused teachers, parents or pupils.”

Also appearing on Today this morning was ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted. Asked whether the error was reflective of wider problems within the exam system, she said, “The government has introduced a whole raft of new tests at primary, GCSE, AS and A-Level. Tests are highly technical constructs – you have to get them right. You have to pilot them, and you have to know that they’re valid and reliable.

“All of those things are difficult and take time. The government was warned about this and didn’t listen.”

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