Five-year-olds may face new test

Children as young as five could be made to sit a national test to give their teachers an indication of how they will do at school under new plans to identify the brightest pupils.

Students may also be made to sit more difficult tests in English, maths and science at the age of 11, where they would be ranked on performance to indicate whether they were in the top or bottom 10%, the Sunday Times reported.

It said the tests for five-year-olds could involve asking them whether they can identify certain objects in a picture and count up to 10.

A source told the paper: "We have to see how children are doing compared with others. In Australia at A-level everyone's results are put into a computer which gives you a ranking, 1, 2, 3, 4 ... If you were to be in the top 10% at age 11 then you should expect your secondary school to help prepare you for a top university."

Last month Oftsed chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said it was ''shocking'' that, in some cases, school leaders and teachers did not even know who their most able children were.

He said a culture of low expectations in many schools means that bright pupils are not being stretched and are failing to gain top grades at GCSE, and called for parents to be sent annual reports giving information on whether their child is achieving as much as they should be.

He suggested that pupils should be put into sets for key subjects such as English and maths from age 11.

Earlier this year it was announced that pupils will sit tougher tests in the basics before they leave primary school.

Children will be expected to learn more about maths ideas such as fractions and number reasoning.

Under the current system, pupils sit national curriculum, or SATs, tests in English and maths at the end of primary school. Level 4 is the standard expected of the age group.