Department for Education withdraws spelling test after it accidentally appeared online
The government has withdrawn a polemic test due to be sat by 500,000 children next month after it was accidentally published online.It was posted on the Department for Education website as a sample of the new spelling test that seven-year-olds will sit in the first week of May.
The mistake emerged when a teacher at a school that was trialling the live paper realised one pupil had already seen the material.The paper had been publicly available since January when it was posted on the Standards and Testing Agency part of the DfE website. It has now been removed.An unknown number of schools, teachers and parents had downloaded the test.Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “To remove any uncertainty and clarify the condition for schools, I have decided that we will remove the requirement on them to administer the key stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test for this year only.”
No other key stage 1 test papers had been affected by this “clearly regrettable incident”, he said.Russell Hobby, general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said there was no way of knowing how extensively it has been used by schools and parents. “In deciding to pull the tests for this year, the minister has acted quickly and appropriately to address the issue. School leaders will welcome this approach,” he said.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the system of assessment for primary pupils was a mess and results “cannot be trusted to be a fair and accurate representation of children’s learning”.“Ministers … should set aside their ideological preferences and acknowledge that the system isn’t working,” she added.The Standards and Testing Agency said the incident appeared to have happened as a result of human error and “a failure to follow appropriate clearance processes”.The chief executive, Jennifer Coupland, said: “An immediate review is under way to establish the accurate facts and we would like to apologise to schools and parents for any distress caused.”
Charlotte Smiles, the teacher who discovered that the test had been published, sail into the Department for Education for its “lack of management”.“They are hopeing us to hold very high standards in terms of administering and keeping these papers stored safely, locked away, so that it’s supposed to give a true reflection of the child, which tests very rarely do anyway,” she said. “And it makes a bit of a mockery of the whole system to have accidentally posted it online.”