New government proposals will see the axing of national curriculum tests taken by more than half a million seven-year-olds in England.

Replacing SATs tests in reading, writing, maths and science, there will be a new baseline assessment of four and five-year-olds in reception.

The move, revealed on Thursday, will help to "reduce the burden" of assessment on teachers and pupils but pupils should not know they are being tested, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said: "The government has reformed the primary school system to make sure children can master the basics of literacy and numeracy so they get the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in later life."

She continued: "Now we want to build on that by developing a stable assessment system that helps children learn, while freeing up teachers to do what they do best - supporting children to fulfil their potential."

The results will be used as a marker of a child's abilities at the start of their schooling and measure their progress to the end of primary school.

Schools will be accountable for the progress children make.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said the possibility of ending Key Stage 1 SATs was "good news".

"This creates the time and space in a pupil's primary years for teachers to focus on teaching rather than on high-stakes assessment," he said.

But Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "Ms Greening has been listening - but only partially.

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"The consultation floats the idea that statutory assessment at KS1 will be set aside, but not until the early 2020s.

"But the relief that is offered at one stage of education is accompanied by changes for the worse for younger age groups.

"The DfE wants to believe that the test results of a five-year-old can reasonably predict their performance at 11, so that the school system can be held to account if children do not make the 'expected' progress.

"In fact, there is a wealth of evidence that points the other way."

'Embarrassing climbdown'

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "This consultation seems to be setting the stage for yet another embarrassing climbdown in just the latest sign of a government in chaos over education policy.

"Primary school test papers have been leaked online, assessments have been scrapped at the last minute, and last year only half of all children met the expected standards in their SATs. It is no wonder they are now having to consult on scrapping some of the tests."

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said she welcomes the proposals to end Key Stage 1 tests but questions whether reception-age testing is reliable enough to provide a measure of progress.

She explained: "We have shown through our research that national assessment of five-year-olds disrupts the start of school at a time when young children need to feel settled, not judged."

The government is consulting on the proposals, which also includes making improvements to the early years foundation stage.

Key Stage 1 SATs tests will go ahead this year with some improvements, including changes to the type and difficulty of questions at the start of the tests.

What are your thoughts on the plans? Is it right to take some of the burden of testing off young children? let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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