Pupils across the country would be tested and ranked in 10% ability bands, but headteachers are not convinced by the plan
Primary schoolchildren will be ranked against their peers across the country under Government proposals.
Eleven-year-olds would sit tests and be put into 10% ability bands, with parents then being updated on their child’s ranking.
The move is one of a raft of proposals by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Schools Minister David Laws aimed at raising primary school standards and ensuring youngsters are ready for secondary school.
The ministers also suggest testing five-year-olds on their progress, described as a “simple check of a child’s ability in the early weeks of a child’s career at school”.
Outlining the “ambitious” overhaul of England’s primaries, Mr Clegg said national rankings of 11-year-olds will help raise the bar.
“Every primary school should strive to make its pupils ready for secondary school by the time they leave,” he said.
“All the evidence shows that if you start behind, you stay behind. A better start at secondary school is a better start in life.
“I make no apology for having high ambitions for our pupils.
“But for children to achieve their potential we need to raise the bar – in terms of tests, pass marks and minimum standards.”
He told Sky News: “What we’re saying is that this is information that will only go to the parents and teachers, it’s not going to be published.
“It’s so that a parent has a rough idea about how their son or daughter is doing compared to other people in the school system.”
But Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), does not agree with ranking 11-year-olds through testing.
“The Government has a fondness for testing young children in the belief that the tests create reliable measures of performance. They don’t,” he said.
“And, by relying only on what can be measured, they risk missing what matters.
“There is far more to being ‘secondary ready’ than a score on an hour’s test. A teacher’s judgement, built up over four years, has much to contribute.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), is concerned about children who rank in the lower ability bands.
“I worry what will happen to those children who have tried hard yet are told that they are in one of the bottom bands,” he said.
“Children at that age mature differently and their confidence can be easily damaged.
“It could make secondary teachers’ job in building self-esteem and confidence even more difficult.
“There are better ways of making it clear to parents and children what they should be achieving at the end of primary school.”
Schools also face being labelled as under-performing if they fail to ensure that more pupils reach higher standards in English and maths tests and 11-year-olds will be expected to gain higher results in their national curriculum tests.
Primaries will need to make sure that more of their pupils are reaching these new tougher standards, or face instant Ofsted inspections and being singled out for improvement measures.
The current system requires that children reach Level 4 in English and maths at the end of primary school, with primaries expected to ensure that 65% of their pupils achieve this standard.
They are also measured on the progress they make between ages seven and 11.
The new system proposes that from 2016, schools should have at least 85% of their students reaching the new higher standard.
The plan also contains measures to scrap national curriculum levels and introduce a new scoring system which is used in international tests.