National curriculum exams should be scrapped in favour of new functional skills tests, a teachers' leader has said.
Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said the functional skills tests, which are expected to be introduced to schools in two years' time, cannot be tacked on to the current over-burdened testing system.
From 2010, it is expected that functional skills tests in English, maths and information technology will be virtually mandatory, with students needing to pass them in order to get an A* to C grade at GCSE. They will also become a core part of the Government's new diplomas.
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, Dr Dunford said these tests "will tell us all we need to know about how well our young people can read, write, do maths and use computers."
He added: "That is what employers have been asking for. So 2010 is the year when Key Stage 3 tests should be abolished. We cannot have both. We do not need both."
Dr Dunford said this year's marking fiasco, which saw thousands of schoolchildren break up for the summer holidays without knowing their Sats results, had been "upsetting" for pupils and "immensely frustrating" for schools.
But he said: "It will have been worth the pain if it leads to a major re-think of the testing regime, with the abolition of Key Stage 3 Sats and a different approach to Sats for 11 year olds."
He said the Key Stage 3 tests, taken by 14-year-olds were "not worth a hill of beans", with few students benefiting from them. "Functional skills tests, on the other hand," he wrote, "have the potential to become a practical, sensible qualification, giving a guarantee of essential achievement and helping to reduce future adult basic skills problems.
"Once they are established, functional skills will influence the curriculum and help to focus work-related learning. Canny schools will look to all subjects to stress applications of this new core of learning.
"But, useful as they will be, tests for functional skills cannot be added to the existing testing system which, if it were a human being, would already have been diagnosed as dangerously obese and in need of urgent hospitalisation. On the grounds of both volume and cost, something has to give when functional skills tests are introduced. Key Stage 3 tests are the obvious target for abolition."