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Primary assessment moderation changes a step in the right direction, says NAHT

Commenting on the guidance for schools on the external moderation of writing published today, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT says: “we welcome the constructive way in which the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) has listened to the concerns raised by school leaders.

"We urgently need a fundamental rethink of writing assessment, which should take place under the umbrella of the recently announced consultation. In the meantime, these changes improve the current situation.

“Changes to the evidence base for KS1 and KS2 are particularly significant. The guidance now explicitly states that local authorities must not dictate what evidence should look like or how it is presented. They should not expect portfolios or checklists of evidence. This will help deliver a more common sense approach to what is expected of school leaders.

“Following reports from members, NAHT were also concerned that sufficient weight has not been consistently applied to the importance of professional judgement and dialogue in the moderation process. The STA plans set out greater references to the expectation for “professional discussion” and additional importance is placed on teachers’ professional judgement. This is an important signal that school leaders and teachers are trusted and their judgements respected.

“We know that the assessment system needs wide-ranging reform, which is what our independent Assessment Review Group will recommend when it reports at the end of the year. However, taken together with the announcements from the secretary of state earlier this month, today’s changes will improve conditions.

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge and member of the Assessment Review Group, says: “Middle leaders have been clear that the interpretation of “consistently” with regards to secure fit for KS1 and KS2 has been damaging to pupils. NAHT has recommended that the STA’s guidance makes clear that “consistently” does not mean every time, which we are pleased to see they have accepted. This is not the move to best fit we have called for, but it is a move in the right direction.

“The STA changes will help schools still reeling from this year’s chaotic and confusing assessment system. They aim to make the system we have better in the short term without additional disruption. The government now needs to look at the assessment system schools need for the long term.”

First published 15 December 2017