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The government is listening to school leaders’ concerns about assessment policy, says NAHT

Today the government publishes its response to the submissions it received during its consultation on primary assessment. 

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Today the government have confirmed that, from this year, teachers will once again be able to apply professional judgement when assessing pupils’ writing. Teachers and school leaders have argued strongly that sufficient flexibility to properly recognise pupils’ achievements was needed.

“The decision to make SATs for seven-year-olds non-statutory in favour of a new reception baseline assessment may well be met with trepidation by some, but it is absolutely the right thing to do. Under current accountability arrangements, the hard work and success of schools during those critical first years is largely ignored. If designed properly, these new assessments can provide useful information for schools to help inform teaching and learning whilst avoiding unnecessary burdens on teachers or anxiety for young children. We intend to work with government to ensure that this is exactly where we end up. Taken together, these measures are a big step in the right direction.”

NAHT assessment specialist Sarah Hannafin added: “Changes to the assessment of writing and the writing frameworks for 2017 are extremely welcome and necessary. This is a positive change, happening this year, which will be fairer for pupils and will put teachers’ professional judgement back at the heart of the assessment of writing. It is disappointing that the government is still intent on introducing an unnecessary new multiplication test, though. This won’t tell school leaders anything they don’t already know and although school results won’t be published the stakes of this test will be raised because Ofsted and RSCs will have access to the data.”

NAHT Edge Director James Bowen, a member of the Assessment Review Group panel commented: “For pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum, we welcome that the more flexible approach to the assessment of English writing adopted in the primary assessment consultation will apply to the pre-key stage standards. That said, we regret the missed opportunity to adopt more positive terminology for the pre-key stage standards that capture the achievement of pupils, rather than labelling them as being ‘below’ the standard by varying degrees.

“The success of any new assessment system depends on breaking the troubled link between testing and punitive accountability. Unless we address the worst aspects of the current accountability system, including acceptance of the inherent limitations of data, even the most sensible assessment arrangements will become skewed.

“Assessment remains a vital part of school activity and our hope is that, after several difficult years, but thanks to some really constructive recent talks with the DfE, we are now moving towards a system that teachers, parents and pupils can have faith in.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

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