Children who fail to reach the expected standards by the end of primary school will be forced to take a “resit test” in Year 7 in a bid to prevent pupils from falling behind, the Conservatives will announce today.
Prime minister David Cameron and education secretary Nicky Morgan will later today set out proposals to introduce the new assessments, which they claim will give pupils the chance to catch up with their peers by age 12.
Ms Morgan will say the biggest predictor of success at GCSE is “whether young people have mastered the basics at age 11”.
According to the Conservatives, government figures show that around 100,000 young people fail to reach level 4 at key stage 2 in English and maths. Of those, just 7 per cent go on to secure five good GCSEs including English and maths, as opposed to 72 per cent of their fellow pupils who do make the grade.
Schools will have a choice of either the spring or summer term as to when they want to enter pupils eligible to take the resit tests. The exams will be marked by teachers rather than by external assessors.
Mr Cameron will tell voters that the policy will form part of the Conservatives’ “plan for education” ahead of the general election, and he will describe his party as the “union for parents”.
“We represent every hardworking mother and father who wants to see their child succeed in a great school,” he is expected to say. “These past five years we have been about getting changes in place which stretch our children – and the results have been extraordinary. The next five will be about finishing the job. More discipline, more rigour, zero-tolerance of failure and mediocrity.
“There’s hardly anything more important to our long-term economic plan for Britain. There is no job that doesn’t require English and Maths and this is about making sure every child gets the best start in life and that our country can compete in the world.”
The Conservatives argue that the new tests will ensure that the £500 “catch-up premium” that each secondary school receives is spent on raising the attainment of those children who arrive having missed the expected standard in Year 6.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt branded the proposals a “desperate attempt by the Tories to overshadow their failures on school standards”.
“On their watch, 1.6 million pupils are being educated in schools that are rated lower than ‘good’ by Ofsted. And as a result of David Cameron’s unqualified teachers policy, more than 400,000 pupils are being taught by unqualified teachers,” Mr Hunt said.
Cameron: schools will face real-terms funding cuts under Tories – 2 February 2015
Cameron under fire for ‘self-serving’ attacks on coasting schools – 2 February 2015