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Assessment reform announced

The government’s long awaited announcement on reform to assessment has arrived.

The Secretary of State’s statement sets out the various aspects of their proposals, but we thought you would find a quick summary and analysis helpful.

We’ve therefore evaluated the government’s proposals against NAHT’s initial requests in the table below:


What we asked for…

What has been achieved…

In our view…

A full review of assessment and accountability conducted in partnership with the profession.

This has been achieved, with an open consultation beginning in January 2017, for implementation in the 2018/19 academic year. This will cover both assessment and accountability, including the role of teacher assessment.

Positive, but the outcomes remain uncertain at this stage. We will shape the design of the consultation.

A moratorium on the introduction of further high stakes tests, including the year 7 resit and the use of KS1 test data in league tables.

This has been achieved. Implementation is halted on the following:

-    An additional resit of thephonics screening check

-    The planned use of KS1 test data

-    Multiplication table tests

-    Year 7 resit.

We’ve stopped the addition of new tests for now.


The government, however, remains keen on the multiplication tests in 2018/19 but with data published only at national level.


The Year 7 resit is halted permanently.

A replacement for the mess of writing teacher assessment, including consistent moderation.

The new guidance, backed by mandatory local authority training, improves moderation and should ensure greater consistency.

The new guidance goes a long way but the process is still cumbersome and untested.

Modify ‘secure’ fit for writing teacher assessment.

There is no move away from secure fit in 2017. Such a move will be considered as part of the full consultation.

However, revised moderation guidance now makes explicit that “consistently” does not mean a pupil meets the standard 100% of the time – a pupil can still be “secure” even with occasional mistakes. This guidance also makes clear the primacy of teacher judgement.

Although some progress has been made, this is disappointing in the short term.

An end to the KS1 SPAG test.

This has been achieved. The KS1 SPAG test will remain non-statutory.

We couldn’t ask for much more here.

Revisions to the design of the KS2 reading test.

This need has been recognised, with better sequencing of questions promised this year, although better selection of texts remains a longer term goal due to the test development process.

It is good that the test will be better designed but there is still a risk that the vocabulary will not be accessible to all.

Full engagement on any future baseline assessment.

This has been achieved as part of the coming consultation.

A tricky topic but one that deserves detailed consideration if we want to take progress seriously.

Publication of the Rochford review for children working below the national curriculum.

This has been achieved. The report will be included in the consultation mentioned above.

And about time too! Now clarity is needed on what happens next in terms of implementation.

A halt to intervention, action or ranking based on this year’s meaningless data.

-     Schools will not face intervention on the basis of 2016 data alone.

-     The government will instruct local authorities, governors, trustees and RSCs to this effect.

-     The FAQ makes it clear that this prevents putting jobs at risk and forced academisation on the basis of 2016 data.

-     In future, the floor and coasting standards will be used to prioritise support for the current leadership teamrather than intervention.

-     2016 data will still be published in league tables.

-     There will also be a cap on the number of schools below the coasting standard.

Whilst we continue to have concerns about the quality of 2016 data and believe something has to change fundamentally in the future, we take some comfort in the fact that the Secretary of State has been clear that the data alone will not drive any decisions on intervention and you should feel confident challenging anyone who does anything otherwise.

Fair benchmarks for junior and infant schools.

This will be considered as part of the consultation.

There is hope on the horizon but no immediate relief for junior schools.


Primary members will have received an email late last week designed to survey opinions and attitudes towards these latest reforms. 

First published 15 December 2017