Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party would axe formal tests for English primary schools, known as Sats.
He claimed they left many children in tears or made them vomit with stress and said scrapping the tests would be one of the first acts of any Labour government.
The pledge was met with cheers from teachers being addressed by Corbyn at the National Education Union (NEU) in Liverpool today.
Labour’s leader said scrapping the Sats tests – which would also end league tables – would help teacher recruitment and retention.
He received a standing ovation after telling the audience: “We need to prepare children for life, not just exams.”
Teaching unions have repeatedly demanded that primary school tests should be dropped, claiming they turns primary schools into ‘exam factories’.
Corbyn said Labour would replace them with alternative assessments based on ‘the clear principle of understanding the learning needs of every child.’
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “We look forward to the return of a broad and balanced curriculum and the rekindling of the spirit of creativity in our schools.”
Corbyn’s announcement was also welcomed by head teachers’ leaders.
Paul Whiteman, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said children’s progress could be measured through “everyday teacher assessment and classroom tests.”
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders said Sats were flawed and a new approach was ‘long overdue.’
But Schools Minister Nick Gibb said abolishing Sats would be ‘a terrible retrograde step’.
He added: “Labour plan to keep parents in the dark. They will prevent parents from knowing how good their child’s school is at teaching maths, reading and writing.”
The government is phasing out Sats for pupils aged seven, to be replaced by a new baseline assessment for reception classes.