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Curriculum and assessment

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NAHT is working to ensure that the curriculum supports the learning, progress and success of all pupils. NAHT supports the principle that a broad and balanced curriculum promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

NAHT is campaigning to: 

Support schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for their pupils

  • Challenge the government policy, including EBacc, which may narrow the curriculum
  • Enable and support schools to successfully deliver statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education
  • Lobby for improvements to government policy which supports schools to deliver inclusive education and fulfil their responsibilities under the public sector equality duty
  • Support schools to deliver effective careers education for all pupils
  • Support schools to deliver high-quality Religious Education to all pupils
  • Provide guidance, materials and information to support schools in educating pupils about environmental issues.

Ensure a valid and proportionate approach to statutory assessment in primary schools

  • Lobby the government to reconsider the introduction of the multiplication tables check
  • Lobby the government to ensure changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage and Early Learning Goals are appropriate and relevant for the early years sector
  • Influence the development and implementation of the reception baseline assessment
  • Support members to implement the new statutory assessment for pupils with SEND
  • Identify and challenge the STA over any impact on members of the contract change to deliver statutory assessment in the primary phase
  • Engage with the STA to influence changes and improvements to statutory assessment including moderation and maladministration
  • Campaign for KS2 SPAG to be made non-statutory and oppose any additional statutory testing in the primary phase

Ensure the KS4 and KS5 qualification framework and examination system is fit for purpose

  • Press the government, Ofqual and exam boards to ensure that reformed qualifications, both academic and vocational, meet the needs of all pupils and schools
  • Explore the issue of grade reliability, identifying solutions and improvements which are supported by members and pressing the government and Ofqual for appropriate action
  • Inform members of the latest developments in secondary assessment through engagement with Ofqual, JCQ and awarding organisations. 

Letters and Sounds update

Photo of child reading to a teacher

We are aware that many members continue to be concerned about recent announcements from the government regarding the Letters and Sounds programme, and in particular the plan to remove the programme from the government’s validated list in spring 2022.
It is important to reiterate that despite the removal of Letters and Sounds from the validated list, the DfE’s own blog on this topic clearly states that: "You don’t have to stop using Letters and Sounds 2007 now, or at all".
It remains the case that schools are free to choose the phonics programme that works best for them. However, we also know that members remain concerned about the potential implications of the subsequent line in the same blog that goes on to state:
"What’s important is that schools take an approach that is rigorous, systematic, used with fidelity (any resources used should exactly match the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) progression of their chosen SSP approach), and achieves strong results for all pupils, including the most disadvantaged. We believe the easiest way to achieve this is to use a full SSP programme from the validated list, but this is not mandatory."
The DfE’s view appears to be that Letters and Sounds does not constitute a full Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme "because it doesn’t provide the support, guidance, resources or training needed."
However it has also noted in that same blog that many schools have successfully built a programme that sits around the Letters and Sounds resources, achieving strong outcomes for pupils.
Understandably, many members have also raised concerns about how Ofsted might interpret this announcement from the DfE, and NAHT has been made aware of some suggestions that schools are being told that they will not be able to achieve a ‘good’ overall effectiveness grade if they are using Letters and Sounds to teach phonics.
Ofsted has confirmed to us that this is not the case and that there is nothing in their handbook to say that schools using Letters and Sounds cannot achieve a ‘good’ grade. It has been clear that it will only judge reading according to what is in the inspection handbook (specifically section 5, Part 3 on early reading, Paragraphs 334-337).
We are conscious that despite this, some members will remain concerned about how inspectors interpret those sections in light of the government’s recent announcement and NAHT will continue to pursue this issue on behalf of our members.
First published 28 June 2021