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National Curriculum Tests

Education written question – answered on 26th July 2010.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps Ofsted plans to take to assess the performance of schools which did not take part in standard assessment tests in 2009-10.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert has written to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Libraries.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 12 July 2010:

Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for response.

The boycott of Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) will have little or no impact on inspection at this stage and this position is set out in guidance issued to schools and inspectors in the June 2010 version of our journal "Schools and Inspection", available online at

During inspections of those schools which participated in the boycott, inspectors cannot take account of the provisional Key Stage 2 SAT results which have, in the past, been available. These provisional results often provide a useful starting point for inspectors' discussions with schools, and judgements about pupils' attainment, pending publication of the validated results in the autumn term.

However, inspectors can still follow the broad principles set out in our "Evaluation schedule for schools" and supplementary guidance. In reaching an overall view about attainment, inspectors will continue to exercise professional judgement in weighing all the evidence they have gathered and setting this against the credibility and accuracy of the school's teacher assessment data.

Ofsted and Department for Education officials are currently assessing whether the absence of data for the schools which participated in the boycott will affect the validity of contextual value-added measures or distort national benchmarks for attainment thresholds. A critical factor relates to whether the historic performance of schools which boycotted the tests is broadly representative of schools as a whole. For example, if there was a predominance of weaker schools, the national picture of attainment for 2010 might be artificially inflated by their absence from the statistics.

These are critical issues which require careful consideration before we issue further guidance for the autumn term 2010. The autumn term guidance will deal with the impact of the boycott on attainment and progress data in RAISEonline and its use by inspectors. In addition, It will continue to steer inspectors to exercise professional judgement in weighing all the evidence they have gathered.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, and will be placed in the library of both Houses.

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