Schools should be “freed from the obligation” of running this year’s key stage 1 spelling, grammar and punctuation test after the paper was accidentally leaked online, headteachers have demanded, after revealing tens of thousands of pupils could now know the answers.
Following the revelation by Schools Week last night that the live test paper has been available from the Standards and Testing Agency’s website for several months, Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has written to schools minister Nick Gibb about the issue.
Hobby and colleagues revealed in a press conference this morning that although it was not known how many pupils had been given the test to try out by parents or teachers, the number could run into the tens of thousands based on the length of time it has been available.
The government has already launched an inquiry into the leak after visitors to the website wanting to download the accessible version of the exemplification materials for the test were able to download the actual paper itself.
Describing the breach as a “serious error that undermines confidence in the administration of primary tests” Hobby said it also meant schools could have “little faith in any standard setting exercise that may emerge from the pre-test trials”.
He warned it would not be possible to exclude schools from the trial “to achieve a pure sample in any reliable way” and said schools themselves “cannot know with certainty if parents have downloaded samples, or indeed if year two teachers have adapted the materials on their own initiative”.
“It will be impossible to set a credible standard on this basis,” he added.
Hobby said freeing schools from the obligation to use the test this year would have “no effect” on the government’s ability to hold schools to account, but would be a “sign of respect” for the “precious time of staff and pupils”.
He said the mistake followed a “series of delays, miscommunications and reversals across the whole testing regime” which he said had created “confusion, anger and indeed despair among professionals”.
“The government’s testing reforms have over-reached and under-delivered, to the detriment of pupils,” he said.