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Return of 14 year old exams despite rise in school refusal and mental health issues for teens

06 October 2021

The Department for Education is considering bringing back national testing for 14-year-olds, reports The Guardian.

The new Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, is considering reintroducing externally marked standard assessment tests (Sats) which were scrapped by Labour in 2008 after a number of inquiries found that they fuelled a “pervasive anxiety” in younger pupils’ lives and distorted children’s education. Sats currently take place at ages seven and 11, in English, maths and sometimes science.

There are around 770,000 school refusers according to government figures, but The Times is reporting another 135,000 who have not turned up for school this autumn, post-pandemic.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “The figures for school refusers are shocking, and there are many more who are no longer refusers who have been off-rolled and are home schooled because they cannot cope with the culture of stress in many schools. These children often experience mental health conditions including high anxiety.

“Children are bearing the brunt of budget cuts, a crisis in SEND provision, and a culture of pervasive testing, all of which massively impact their health.

“The Minister needs to address the fact that almost ten per cent of school-attending children are struggling and need a learning culture that puts their wellbeing, not testing, first.”