The Depratment for Education this morning mounted a robust defence of the coming week’s SATs tests for 11-year olds in response to growing criticism from parents and teachers about the level and content of this year’s tests. They berated the short-termism behind the criticism, stating that it is necessary to take the long view. Given last week’s U-turn on academies, this is all the more important – if state schools do not meet threshold standards they can be forced into compulsory academisation even under the new Plan B. The Department was bullish about the content of the so called Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test, shamefully abbreviated to the SPAC test in the first press briefing seen by this journalist. Secretary of State Nicky Martian commented that for decades ordinary decent people have had to endure illiteracy in signs such as “Pomigranit’s, 4 for £5” when they go to buy their fresh produce at market stalls. Clearly there was a need to better educate those with low aspirations destined to write their own signs on bits of cardboard and for those who may spend their weekends selling **** at car-boot sales. Off the record, one insider did admit that there was an in-built fudge on the maths levels required for children to reach the “acceptable standard”. Mathematics would be scored out of a total of 110 and any academies scoring poorly would be given dispensation to report their children’s raw scores as if they were in fact percentages. Obviously this course of action would not be appropriate for Local Authority run schools since they have not opted for the additional freedoms offered by conversion to academy status. When asked to explain why such tests are not used in the private sector, the Schools’ Minister, Mr Glibb grew exasperated. “If we get this right, in years to come, it can be the state educated children who draft the speeches and articles for the elite. And anyway, why would any aspiring Tory need to understand the present or future progressive?” he said.