NAHT has submitted our response to the government consultation on the Rochford review recommendations for the assessment of key stage 1 and 2 pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests.
NAHT's full response is available in PDF format here. A summary of the key points of our response is set out below.
Key points of NAHT's response
- Overall, NAHT supports the principle that the assessment approach for pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum should align with the new national curriculum.
- On balance, and with important caveats that are set out in our full consultation response, NAHT broadly supports the recommendation to extend the pre-key stage standards for pupils engaged in subject specific learning at both key stage 1 and 2, to include all pupils engaged in subject specific learning.
- NAHT is, however, concerned about the message that is implicit in the language of the pre-key stage standards. As written, the pre-key stage standards fail to convey the progress and attainment of pupils with SEND, even though the Rochford review expresses these more positively in terms of pupils 'can' statements.
- NAHT recognises that P scales have provided an effective way of measuring progress for pupils at early developmental levels, and provided a framework and common vocabulary for both professionals and parents. Further work is therefore required to establish a common language that is understood by both Special and mainstream schools, in order to meet the needs of pupils who may move from one Special school to another; from Special to mainstream; or from mainstream to Special. This is essential to maintain rigour, ambition and aspiration for pupils.
- NAHT therefore recommends a commonly agreed 'bridge', and perhaps a conversion table, in order that there is a level of consistency in the way in which language is used to describe progress and attainment for SEND pupils across schools in the Special and mainstream sectors.
- Further, NAHT recommends that consideration is given to research into the development of a methodology to provide for national comparisons and benchmarking for both the pre-key stage standards, and for the assessment of cognition and learning using the seven areas of engagement for pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning. While recognising that this will be a complex piece of qualitative rather than quantitative analysis, it is surely essential to develop a national picture of the effectiveness of SEN provision.
- NAHT agrees that the statutory elements of assessment for pupils not engaged in subject specific learning should focus on cognition and learning, rather than covering all of the areas of need set out within the SEND Code of Practice.
- However, while assessment would not be statutory for communication and interaction; social, emotional and mental health; or sensory and / or physical elements of the code of practice, these remain central to provision for pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning. We believe that non-statutory assessment remains critical in these areas.
- NAHT supports the recommendation that the seven areas of engagement form a suitable framework for the assessment of cognition and learning. We recognise that there are divergent views on this matter, but take the view that there is a need for a national consistency in the approach to the assessment of pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning. The seven areas offer a suitable approach through which to personalise activities, and to gather evidence about the incremental progress made by pupils. In turn this information can be used formatively to define their future learning pathways.
- Our full response identifies a number of assessment issues which need further work and exploration. These are mainly around the sensitivity of the new system to capture the progress of pupils working at early levels.
- An unintended consequence of the adoption of statutory assessment for cognition and learning must not bethat this becomes the sole accountability measure through which school performance is judged. Data can only provide a starting point for assessing school performance – giving undue prominence to statutory assessment could all too easily distort a school's emphasis on the other aspects of need for pupils with SEND. Those designing assessment policy need to clearly understand these differences.
- Moving away from P Scales presents a challenge which requires investment to support effective implementation including the opportunity for funded cross-phase and cross-school type collaboration, alongside effective funded CPD. In line with SEND area reviews it also assumes that there should be opportunities for regional engagement, and linkage to both health and social care providers.
- All Initial Teacher Training pathways should include formal, high-quality SEND training for all trainees, in order to ensure their familiarity with the new requirements.
- Funding is required to ensure that the broader range of services that schools require to effectively provide for their SEND pupils, including mental health and social care services, are readily available and adequately resourced. This must ensure that schools have the access to, and support from, specialist therapeutic services as required. This is an essential precondition to ensure the success of the policy change.