Education Secretary Sets Out The Importance Of Testing In Primary School

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Education Secretary Damian Hinds set out the importance of primary assessment

The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph on 21 April, 2019, Education Secretary Damian Hinds set out the importance of primary assessment but also made clear that it should not be a source of stress to pupils.

Most of us go to the dentist and the optician to have our teeth and eyes checked on a regular basis. When we turn 40 we can have our health checked by the GP. If something matters, you check that it’s all ok.

Very few things matter as much as ensuring our children can read, write and add up. That is why all over the world, from France to Finland and America to Australia children’s learning is assessed. From Berlin to Bordeaux, Boston to Brisbane, children sit assessment tests. 28 out of 35 countries in the OECD assess primary school pupils through national, standardised tests. In Australia, tests take place in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. In most US States, they take place annually. There are very few things that are agreed the world over about education – the need to assess primary school attainment is one of them.

The tests themselves vary but the principle remains constant. These tests do not exist to check up on our children. Our national curriculum tests (often called SATs) exist to check up on the system – and those who oversee it on your behalf. There are few duties on me that are more serious than ensuring that children are literate and numerate by the time they leave primary school. It is absolutely right that you should know whether we are succeeding in this duty or not.

This is why it worries me deeply when I hear calls for primary school tests to be scrapped. Imagine if the government announced that it was going to ban dental checks or stop opticians checking our eyesight. People would be rightly horrified. Stopping testing means not checking whether something is ok or not. In the world of primary school education, that means stopping checking whether our children can read, write and add up.

This doesn’t mean that we should accept exam stress at primary school. The truth is that in many schools, there isn’t any. All over the world, schools guide children through tests without them feeling pressured. This is how it should be. For these tests are tests of our education system, not our children. They test whether we – the adults – are discharging our duty to the children of our country.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – no-one has ever been asked for their SATs results when they go to a job interview. Why? Because they are not public exams. Unlike GCSEs or A-levels, I am yet to meet someone with a SATs result on their CV.

Those of you younger than 35 know this through experience, for our primary schools have been carrying out national curriculum tests for almost 30 years now. I refuse to countenance returning to a world where Government had no effective way of knowing how well our children were being taught, disproportionately to the detriment of those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

The importance of testing has been one of the main things Labour and Conservative governments have agreed on in education policy over the past quarter of a century. This consensus has allowed us to measure progress in discharging our duty to our children. As a result we can tell which areas of the country and which schools need more support and which should share their expertise with the rest. It allows us all to see the improvement over the last few years in children’s reading as well as the declining gap between disadvantaged students and their better off peers. Turning our back on testing would put this progress, and children’s future, at risk.

D-Day 75: Veterans To Be Saluted By Land, Sea And Air In June

The Ministry of Defence has announced that 4,000 Armed Forces personnel will salute Normandy veterans at commemorative events taking place in Normandy and Portsmouth

The Red Arrows fly over Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth

The Red Arrows fly over Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth

More than 4,000 Armed Forces personnel will lead the nation in marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day with major commemorative events in Portsmouth and Normandy in June.

A major national commemorative event on Southsea Common in Portsmouth will be attended by D-Day veterans, VIP guests and service personnel.

Members of the public are invited to attend the commemorations in Portsmouth, where a flypast of 26 Royal Air Force aircraft will salute the veterans in gratitude for their service.

Up to 300 veterans, who are now all over 90 years old, will leave Portsmouth on a specially-commissioned ferry to attend events in Normandy on the following day. Up to 11 Royal Navy ships will accompany the veterans as they depart Portsmouth to provide a spectacular salute on the eve of the 75th anniversary.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

75 years ago troops from 14 Allied countries united together, many on the south coast of Britain, before launching the historic operation to liberate occupied Europe. Britain must always keep the legacy of that special generation alive. I urge people to join our Armed Forces in showing that all of us, young and old, will never forget the price they paid for the freedom and peace we now enjoy.

Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter said:

The Armed Forces are honoured to dedicate so many personnel and assets to this significant commemoration. Our forebears, who planned and executed Operation Overlord, and those who enabled it to happen by fighting in Italy, Africa and beyond, have the enduring respect of our Armed Forces. We will ensure the example of that special generation lives on.

At 0726 on 6 June, a lone piper of the British Army will play at Arromanches in Normandy to mark the exact moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.

Later that morning, the Normandy Memorial Trust’s statue will be inaugurated by senior UK and French figures in a ceremony at Ver-sur-Mer.

Service personnel will then join veterans at Bayeux Cathedral and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery for The Royal British Legion’s traditional annual commemorative ceremonies.

Secretary Pompeo’s Call With President Ashraf Ghani Of Afghanistan

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke on April 20th with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan. The Secretary condemned the Taliban’s recent announcement of a spring offensive and underscored the United States’ solidarity with the Afghan people’s pursuit of a comprehensive peace agreement that would end the suffering and destruction. He also expressed the United States’ disappointment that the intra-Afghan dialogue, planned for Doha, Qatar, had been postponed. The Secretary and President Ghani agreed that the Doha conference presents an important opportunity to advance peace. The Secretary encouraged all sides to seize the moment and reach an understanding on participants, so that an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue can be convened in Doha as soon as possible.

UK Government Supports Global Action To Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade

There has been progress in key areas in the six months since the UK government staged the largest-ever Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in October 2018 including the launch of education packs

A turtle in the ocean

A turtle in the ocean

Schemes to combat poaching and protect species like marine turtles and grey parrots from being illegally traded, are among fourteen new projects set to benefit from a UK government fund to combat wildlife criminals around the globe.

Ministers have today marked Earth Day (22 April) by announcing that the schemes will each receive a share in £4.6 million from the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

The projects set to benefit include:

  • Fauna & Flora International’s project for reducing demand for marine turtle products in Nicaragua
  • ZSL’s work to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade in grey parrots in Cameroon
  • Cracking wildlife smuggling in Madagascar, a project run by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • Strengthening anti-poaching techniques and countering wildlife trafficking in Uganda, a project run by WCS

New education resources for school children around the globe will also be launched on Earth Day. The online packs aim to teach the next generation about the dangers of fuelling the illegal wildlife trade. The UK government has provided £40,000 to create these packs for children in multiple languages.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

The illegal wildlife trade is an international tragedy. This serious organised criminal networks do more than just damage wildlife – corruption and illegal activities undermine sustainable development and the rule of law, bringing misery to local communities.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund is backing projects that will tackle the criminals at source and in countries that are destinations for items made from illegally traded plants and animals.

Through the online education packs, we will make sure that younger generations understand the importance of not fuelling demand for products made from illegally traded wildlife. This will provide a strong legacy from last year’s Illegal Wildlife Trade conference for schoolchildren and teachers around the world.

This is real progress to crack down on environmental crime. Working together, we can end this insidious trade.

Six months since the Duke of Cambridge and world leaders gathered in London for the biggest IWT conference in history, progress has been made at a pace around the world to tackle and end this crime.

In recent weeks, the UK has brought together some of the world’s leading specialists to form a consortium which will look at ways of reducing demand and driving behavioural change, to share knowledge and experience and inform further work to dampen demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products.

Defra and the British Embassy in Hanoi, with support from the consortium members, recently held a successful workshop in Vietnam to look at ways to tackle the demand for illegally traded species and products (25 to 26 March 2019).

The workshop brought together local specialists from Vietnam and the wider region, along with Defra’s Demand Reduction consortium members and global academics and practitioners, to consider and share experiences on existing approaches to reducing demand for illegal wildlife trade products.

The outputs of the workshop will help inform the approach and scope of new initiatives and innovative projects to reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products. The discussions and outputs of the workshop will also inform other global work.

Further Action

But that’s not all – other actions from the conference are now well underway too.

Among the achievements so far, the UK government has established a new counter-poaching partnership programme. The first training has been completed and a deployment is underway in Africa.

The WILDLABS Tech Hub was formed at the London conference to harness the power of technology, data-sharing and machine-learning to combat wildlife crime. The Tech Hub has completed an open-call for conservation technology developers and data providers to join the project. An impressive 37 developers applied. Projects selected from these applicants will participate in a three-month programme, receiving support from Digital Catapult, Satellite Applications Catapult, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, the FCO, the Open Data Institute, as well as seven international conservation organisations.

And next month, a review meeting on how countries are tackling the global illegal wildlife trade will take place at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species Conference of the Parties in Sri Lanka.

Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, said:

Six months ago we hosted the London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference and I’m hugely encouraged by the progress that’s been made so far. The UK is committed to finding new ways to combat this illicit trade through a coordinated, global response and stamping out demand for illegal wildlife products is a crucial part of this.

Additional Funding

With support from the Department for International Development (DFID), Defra has invested a total of £23 million in the IWT Challenge Fund.

DFID pledged an extra £6 million of UK aid for the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund before the start of the IWT conference in 2018 and further rounds for funding applications will be opened shortly for projects to bid.

Harriett Baldwin, Minister for State for International Development, said:

The Illegal Wildlife Trade conference provided renewed impetus for all of the delegates and nations attending last year. This despicable trade in endangered wildlife and plants also destroys the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest people, robbing communities of the great economic benefits of wildlife, including tourism.

UK aid will be giving life to projects whose aim is to protect these species and secure the futures for people living alongside wildlife.

This is a win for those communities and a win for animal lovers across the world. None of us want to see these majestic animals dying out.

Reducing demand for illegal wildlife products is critical to stopping the illegal wildlife trade. As long as the demand for these goods persists, criminals will seek new ways to circumvent anti-trafficking and anti-poaching enforcement efforts, and the threat to wildlife populations worldwide will continue.

Promising Consortium Outcomes

The UK is encouraging a global shift in our approach to demand reduction interventions to ensure that they are properly evidenced, impacts are measured and evaluated, and results and best practice are shared. The UK is also keen to see an increase in interventions that have a strong basis in behaviour change science.

That is why the UK established a consortium of demand reduction and behaviour change specialists to develop recommendations on approach and scope of future illegal wildlife trade demand reduction initiatives.

The consortium helped Defra deliver a workshop that focused on exploring the following existing approaches to reducing demand: environmental education, social marketing, social and behavioural change communication, and behavioural economics.

Attendees considered when these approaches might be best utilised in demand reduction interventions, how interventions using these approaches might be designed, implemented and evaluated to ‘good standards’, and who needs to be involved to ensure interventions are successful.

Naomi Doak, Head of Conservation Programmes for The Royal Foundation, said:

Looking at how the conservation sector approaches behaviour change for illegal wildlife products is crucial if we are to improve our efforts.

The workshop provided a crucial space for those discussions and how we build on previous actions.

Dr Vuong Tien Manh, from Vietnam CITES, said:

We appreciate the support from the UK government and international organisations to help tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

Although good work has been done in this area, there is still demand in some parts of Vietnam. Interventions need to be based on scientific research. Vietnam is contributing to global action on IWT but there is a need to do more.

The consortium currently consists of Oxford Martin SchoolTRAFFICWildlife Conservation Society (WCS)United for Wildlife (The Royal Foundation)UN Environment Programme and USAID.

Education Packs

WWF-UK has produced two packs aimed at primary (KS2) and secondary (KS3) school students. These will be available from today for schools to register to access from the WWF-UK website.

Tale2Tail has produced a separate and beautifully illustrated pack which is also accessible online and provides teaching notes and lesson plans to help teachers in the classroom. There are illustrations of animals in their pack from Axel Scheffler, the illustrator behind the Gruffalo; and photography from world-renowned photographer David Yarrow. The images bring the story telling alive for young people. Download the pack here:

WWF-UK Education Pack:

WWF-UK, in partnership with DEFRA, is today launching two new resources for schools focusing on raising awareness of the illegal wildlife trade – what it is, and the part we can play as individuals to tackle it.

Illegal Wildlife Trade Detectives (KS2) and Illegal Wildlife Trade: Investigations (KS3) are now available to teachers and include activities that can be delivered through different subject areas or as part of a themed week on sustainability.

Activities include an interactive quiz, photo cards and a map showing species at risk from the illegal wildlife trade. Together, these activities combine to create an engaging resource to inspire school communities to take action to help protect nature and wildlife, both locally and globally.

Schools are encouraged to register on the WWF-UK website to access this new, free classroom resource.

Tale2Tail Education Pack:

Tale2Tail, a charity which uses storytelling, art, photography and creative materials to educate children about saving wildlife, has produced this beautiful education pack, with over 20 hours of illustrated lesson plans, including a play, to raise awareness of the trade in Illegal wildlife and build a worldwide child wildlife ambassador network.

The pack includes stunning photography and illustrations by renowned wildlife photographer David Yarrow and the illustrator behind ‘The Gruffalo,’ Axel Scheffler.

By helping children understand and find their voice on this global issue, Tale2tail aims to change behaviour around the buying and selling of elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, cheetah cubs and other endangered wildlife. The charity wants today’s children to be the generation that takes the lead to ensure the survival of wildlife.

Kate Studholme, CEO of Tale2Tail said:

We need to ensure elephant and rhino don’t become the 21st century’s unicorn, only to be found on the pages of a book, so we have created an original and beautifully illustrated education pack to raise children’s understanding and awareness of illegal wildlife trade. With over 20 hours of lesson plans, including a play, it will engage children across the UK and international curriculum. By helping children find their voice on this crucial issue, Tale2Tail aims to change behaviour around the buying and selling of endangered wildlife.

The charity is looking for support in both finding channels to further distribute their educational materials in the UK and globally, and to reach influential readers in a number of countries worldwide.

The Tale2Tail education pack can be downloaded on their website.

London Declaration 2018

The London Declaration 2018 committed the UK to investing more than £36 million between 2014 and 2021 to take action to counter IWT, including work to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement, ensure effective legal frameworks and develop sustainable livelihoods.

The full text of the London Declaration 2018 is available online.

Secretary Pompeo To Deliver Remarks To The Media In The Press Briefing Room

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will deliver remarks to the media TOMORROW, Monday, April 22 at 8:45 a.m. in the Press Briefing Room at the Department of State.

This event is open press coverage. Journalists who plan to cover this event in person must be seated in the Press Briefing Room by 8:30 a.m. The Press Briefing Room is accessible from the 23rd Street entrance of the Department.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued photo media credential (e.g., Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), or (2) an official photo identification card issued by their news organization, or (3) a letter from their employer on official letterhead verifying their current employment as a journalist. Additionally, they must present an official government photo identification card (i.e., U.S. driver’s license or passport).

The event will be streamed live on

For further information, please contact the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492 or

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