Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) Test - press release
13 May 2013
Commenting on the SPAG test, conducted for the first time tomorrow (14 May), Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The culture of high-stakes testing has worsened under this Government, with the introduction of both the Phonics Check in Year 1 and the SPAG test in Year 6. Both are unnecessary and harmful because they test children’s skills out of context. Indeed, the Government’s own advisors have said there is no evidence that the tests will improve children’s English and could give a false impression of their level of literacy. (1)
“This is yet another example of Michael Gove failing to understand teaching or to engage in professional dialogue with teachers. Schools would have benefited from a full picture of the style of test questions at the beginning of the academic year, so as to inform learning, but the framework documents only surfaced in December 2012.
“There is simply no need for yet another test for primary school children. Pupils’ grammar, punctuation and spelling are already assessed by teachers on a daily basis. This will become yet another high-stakes accountability measure which will narrow the curriculum still further, cause needless stress for children and encourage teaching to the test. As such, it may actually prove counterproductive to teachers’ efforts to improve writing skills.
“What is needed is an assessment system which supports real learning in real contexts and encourages children to progress through their education with confidence, rather than be made to feel like failures.”