On 30 March, the long awaited Primary Assessment consultation was launched by the Department for Education.
Details were explained to Parliament in a speech by Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening. The consultation includes a wealth of proposals for improving the primary assessment system, which upon reading, seem somewhat more positive than the Department for Education’s recent interim assessment.
Greening explains that the government have engaged teaching unions on the proposals for the last 12 weeks and her hope is that we can build a ‘stable assessment system that helps children learn’ whilst allowing teachers to do what they do best: ‘supporting children to fulfil their potential.’ The NAHT union feel that the government have listened to their recommendations within their Independent Assessment Review Group Report.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The DfE’s proposal asks for feedback on the best starting point to measure pupils’ progress within their primary education, suggesting that an Early Years assessment that follows the principles of the EYFS would be best; due to the fact that the current assessment in Key Stage One fails to give schools credit for the work with pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.
The consultation wants our advice and thoughts on the best way to approach this, which after the 2015 attempt of many different Reception Baseline tests, there will be many Reception teachers with ideas of what will, and will not work. The consultation also invites thoughts on the way in which the EYFS is assessed, improvements that can be made to the Early Years profile, the EYFS moderation, and how to reduce the burden on teachers’ workloads.
Key Stage One
There is the long awaited, and much needed discussion of Key Stage One tests which explore the thoughts that many of us have: Are Key Stage One tests fair? Do schools deflate the results to show further progress within Key Stage Two? How does this differ to children assessed in an Infant School?
The government have suggested that Key Stage One tests would become non statutory, however, any new baseline assessment would not be in place before the 2019/20 academic year. I would welcome their proposal of removing statutory Key Stage One assessments, and I’m sure that any teacher who has ever had to implement the statutory tests to six and seven year old children will share similar feelings.
Key Stage Two
The consultation also explores writing in detail, explaining that ‘feedback from many teachers suggests that the current approach to the statutory assessment of writing could be improved.’ The consultation discusses retaining a teacher assessment framework but moving to a ‘best fit’ model and reviewing the ‘pupil can’ statements. Linked to this, the consultation also discusses removing the requirement to submit teacher assessment where it is not used for the accountability of schools, in the interests of reducing teacher workload. They also discuss the multiplication check, and plans to introduce a national multiplication tables check from 2018-2019, yet do this in a way that imposes as little additional workload as possible.
The Rochford Review
The government also released a parallel consultation on the recommendations from the independent Rochford Review. The proposals will ensure that there is a suitable assessment for children who are working below the standard of the national curriculum tests. The consultation explores solutions to help children progress on to the mainstream form of assessment, in the hope that those children who are working below the standard will not be left behind regardless of their background, need or disability.
Dare I say it, the proposal from the DfE, and the questions that the consultation ask, suggest that they have listened to teachers, educators and those in classrooms with first-hand experience of what works. I am excited to see what it brings, and urge you all to take the time to fill in the consultation, have your say, and help make a difference to educational outcomes for all children. You have until 22 June 2017.
Jo is an experienced Manchester moderator and is holding writing moderation courses for Year Two and Year Six on Friday 21 April 2017.