Jeremy Corbyn has announced plans to abolish primary school Sats.
Speaking at the National Education Union’s Conference in Liverpool, the Labour leader set out proposals to scrap the “regime of extreme pressure testing”.
Labour said the policy would relieve pressure on a schools system forced to cope with overcrowded classrooms, and an ongoing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.
Mr Corbyn said: “We need to prepare children for life, not just for exams.
“Sats and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears.
“I meet teachers of all ages and backgrounds who are totally overworked and overstressed. These are dedicated public servants. It’s just wrong.”
Mr Corbyn also announced that the next Labour government will scrap baseline assessments for reception classes.
He said Labour would consult parents and teachers on an alternative that “prepares children for life, not just for exams”.
The conference heard: “Our assessment will be based on clear principles. First, to understand the learning needs of each child, because every child is unique.
“And second, to encourage a broad curriculum aimed at a rounded education.
“When children have a rich and varied curriculum, when they’re encouraged to be creative, to develop their imagination, then there’s evidence that they do better at the core elements of literacy and numeracy too.”
Mr Corbyn said his party trusts teachers and will raise standards by freeing them up to teach.
He added: “Teachers get into the profession because they want to inspire children, not pass them along an assembly line.”
The Labour leader made the speech after spending the day lending his support to the local election campaign in the North West.
He was greeted by cheers of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” as he made his way into the arena, and the announcement received a rapturous standing ovation.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Jeremy Corbyn gets it – he recognises the damage that a test-driven system is doing to children and schools; he understands what needs to change; he sets out ideas for education which will make sense to parents and teachers.
“The NEU has long advocated an assessment system that has the trust of teachers and school communities – one that will support children’s learning and raise standards of attainment in our schools.
“We look forward to the return of a broad and balanced primary curriculum and to the rekindling of the spirit of creativity in our schools. We welcome Labour’s commitment to work with the profession in order to develop these ground-breaking policies further.”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb condemned Mr Corbyn’s plan to end Sats.
He said: “These tests have been part of school life since the 90s. They have been pivotal in raising standards in our primary schools.
“That’s why Labour governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown supported them.
“Abolishing these tests would be a terrible, retrograde step. It would enormously damage our education system, and undo decades of improvement in children’s reading and maths.
“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.
“Under Labour, the government would simply give up on ensuring all our children can read and write by the age of 11.
“This is yet another reason why a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would be so disastrous for our country.”
The announcement comes less than a month before thousands of children are expected to sit their SATs.
It follows the NEU conference voting on Monday in favour of balloting members over a boycott of next year’s exams.
More Than A Score welcomed the announcement, saying: “We’ve now reached a tipping point as parents, teachers, heads, education experts and politicians agree: the current testing regime makes no sense and is damaging for pupils, teachers and schools.
“Parents of children preparing for year 6 SATs in just a few weeks’ time will have seen the effects for themselves: a narrowed curriculum and unnecessary pressure on pupils and teachers.
“Meanwhile, parents of pre-schoolers are now facing the prospect of four-year-olds being tested in English and maths when they start school from next year.”