Responding to Amanda Spielman’s warning that schools in England are focusing too much on working towards academic tests and not offering a balanced enough curriculum, NAHT deputy general secretary Nick Brook said: “It is essential to adopt fair methods to hold schools to account. The government needs to recognise that exam and test results are only part of the picture in judging a pupil’s success or a school’s effectiveness. At the moment this isn’t happening.
“School leaders want to do what is best for the children in their school but are restricted by an accountability system that places undue weight on SATs data and exam results. We must value a broad range of subjects in the school day so that pupils’ opportunities are not limited either in school or later on in adult life.
“Proposals to remove statutory assessment at KS1, replaced by a baseline in reception, would create more space and time for schools to focus on teaching and learning and would be a step in the right direction. Ofsted are already aware of this problem. Their 2016 Annual Report highlighted concerns about the small amount of time being devoted to science, technology and languages because of the pressure to focus on English and Maths.
“The reform of GCSEs to be fully linear means that some schools will be looking for ways to reduce the pressure on students whose results now rely on a huge number of exams at the end of year 11. Schools need the freedom to provide the curriculum which is right for their students so that they can be most successful and prepared for their next steps into further education or training. This might be why some lower attaining pupils are not following the full EBacc. However, the EBacc itself is a limited curriculum with no room for Arts, Technology and RS. There is a contradiction in saying schools should be offering a broad and balanced curriculum to their students, whilst also expecting all students to adhere to such a narrow set of subjects.”
First published 30 November 2017