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'Let our Kids be Kids' Campaign Letter

24 June 2016 (by Charlotte Woulds (cwoulds))

Response letter on behalf of the Secretary of State

Dear Parents of pupils at Redlands School 

I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State to thank you for your letters of 3 May regarding the ‘Let Our Kids Be Kids’ campaign. I am sure you can appreciate that ministers receive a large amount of correspondence and are unable to answer each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to reply.

The department is always grateful when people take the time to write to us with their views and your comments will help inform ministers of current feeling.
We know that no one is more committed to giving this country’s children the best possible start in life than parents – our primary school reforms are designed to do exactly that. We want to make sure that your children are learning to read, write and add up well, so they can go on to progress in their education. The truth is if they do not master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk falling behind and struggling for the rest of their lives. We have tests to check that children are mastering these vital skills and that schools are held to account where they have not done so.

Primary school pupils already sit tests in Year 2 and Year 6. We have updated these to align with the new National Curriculum and introduced a more challenging expected standard to match the high expectations it sets. It is right that we set high aspirations for our children. Previous expectations at primary school were simply too low and too many pupils who had reached the required standards at primary school failed to achieve at least five good GCSEs at secondary school.

The new National Curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge for primary school children. As previously, teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons to engage children in their education. Beyond the core subjects of English, mathematics and science, the slimmer national curriculum gives teachers greater flexibility to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.

Assessment of pupils’ understanding of the curriculum is fundamental to their education. Tests allow teachers and parents to identify the areas where additional support is needed, as well as make sure schools are doing well by their pupils. Statutory tests form only part of the broader assessments that schools make, however, and schools report these outcomes in the context of pupils’ overall achievements and progress. We expect schools to ensure that assessments of a child’s achievements are reported in an appropriate and proportionate manner.

As ever, schools should encourage all pupils to attain high grades but we do not recommend that they devote excessive preparation time for assessment. We are clear that these tests should not cause stress for pupils and we trust teachers to administer them in a way that does not put undue pressure on them. Teachers can do a considerable amount to prepare pupils and to help parents support them. Schools are also required to provide continuous support as part of a whole school approach to supporting the wellbeing and resilience of pupils.

Ultimately, the tests are in place to ensure that children are not let down by our school system. We want every child, irrespective of their background, to benefit from an excellent education which will help them go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. To stop these tests would only serve to undermine children’s education.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns with the department.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2016-0027758. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.
As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: https://www.education.gov.uk/pctsurvey.

Yours sincerely

Rachel Nelson 

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk
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