KS2 grammar test published online in second exam breach

Today’s key stage 2 English test has been leaked online, adding to the chaos surrounding standardised testing in England after a similar key stage 1 test was accidentally published by the Department for Education (DfE) last month.

The answers to the spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) test were uploaded onto a password-protected site accessible to exam markers last night, before being taken down several hours later by Pearson, the exam board which runs the website.

Labour called the leak a “body blow” for parent and teacher confidence in the assessment system and a teaching union has called for the tests to be scrapped.

The DfE has launched an investigation, but said it has no evidence to suggest the paper was leaked into the public domain by the time schools began to administer it.

A department source has reportedly blamed a “rogue marker” for the leak, as part of an “active campaign by those people opposed to our reforms to undermine these tests”.

The test has not been cancelled after the numbers having accessed the page are thought to be in the dozens – in contrast to the key stage 1 SPAG test, which was withdrawn by Nick Gibb after it was revealed that the paper had been publicly accessible on the Standard and Testing Agency’s website for several months.

A DfE spokesman said: “We are aware that Pearson, the external marking supplier responsible for Key Stage Two tests, published the Key Stage Two grammar, punctuation and spelling test on its secure marker site, for a short period of time. We are urgently investigating this breach.

“The site can only be accessed by Pearson’s approved markers, all of whom are under secure contract. Any distribution of materials constitutes a clear breach of that contract.”

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell called for an emergency review of the primary assessment system in light of Monday’s breach.

She said: “The possibility that education ministers have compromised the Sats Key Stage Two spelling and grammar test coming, as it does, hot on the heels of their cancellation of the KS1 spelling and grammar test due to incompetence, calls into question the ability of ministers in the department to properly manage our education system.

“This news undermines the validity of the Sats spelling and grammar test children are sitting today and is a body blow to parent and teacher confidence in the primary assessment system.”

In light of the leak, the NUT has renewed its calls for the tests to be scrapped this year.

General secretary Christine Blower told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The fact is they are very high stakes. They are the wrong tests at the wrong time and now they are compromised.”

She added: “However it happened, it has compromised the tests. We didn’t like the tests in the first place but the fact is the tests are compromised and it just adds to the general sense of chaos, about not just the curriculum but in particular about assessment this year.

“So, we repeat that we think, for this year, the results of these tests should be scrapped and not used for any purpose whatsoever.”

Yesterday’s reading test was criticised by some teachers and parents for having been so difficult it risked demoralising

Pearson have been approached for comment.