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School leaders commit to a full review of assessment to create a stable, coherent vision

Government-led reform of assessment has alienated a substantial proportion of the profession and a growing number of parents. It lacks a clear vision for a stable, proportionate and coherent approach to acknowledging children's achievements and measuring school performance.

A fundamental review of assessment is needed. And if the profession has better ideas for how it could work, it is incumbent upon it to provide the vision itself.

NAHT has established an independent Assessment Review Group to consider the assessment arrangements that should be in place from the start of school through to the beginning of Key Stage 3.  

Comprising of serving school professionals and experts in the field, the group will be chaired by Dave Ellison, a deputy head teacher. Representatives from the DfE, Ofqual, OFSTED and STA will be invited to attend.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT says: “NAHT has set up this independent assessment group to find a way to make the system work better for children, for parents, for teachers, for school leaders and even for government. We know we need to be accountable and we know that assessment - and even testing - is an important part of the education system. But this must be proportionate and focused on improving the learning of pupils.

"This is a chance to start a more constructive dialogue, with the profession in the lead. Without such dialogue, the prospects for next year look bleak.

“We are delighted that a range of practitioners and education experts have agreed to sit on the panel. We hope to produce a report with purposeful recommendations to the primary assessment system up to key stage 3.”   

Commenting on his appointment as the chair of the assessment panel, Dave Ellison says: “I am delighted to have been asked to chair this independent review into primary assessment. Like everyone else involved in primary assessment, I have been disappointed and concerned by the recent crisis in assessment, with mistakes and misjudgements making the system not fit for purpose.


“The assessment group will take a detailed look at the best evidence available on what an assessment system should look like, from both here and abroad. We look forward to welcoming representatives from the DfE and elsewhere, and hope our report will go some way to help fix a broken system.”

The group will consider the current assessment procedures, the statutory testing regime, the role of teacher assessment, transition between phases, accountability requirements, associated outputs and the coherence of the various approaches. It will aim to provide interim recommendations as quickly as possible this term to inform wider dialogue and debate

Note to editors:

The Assessment Review Group will comprise of:

  • Dave Ellison, deputy head teacher, Foxfield Primary School
  • Professor Dame Alison Peacock, education expert
  • James Bowen, director, NAHT Edge
  • Robert Coe, Professor of Education at Durham University
  • Tony Draper, head teacher at Water Hall Primary School and NAHT immediate past president
  • Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
  • Louise Griffith, assistant head, St George’s Church of England Primary School
  • Sarah Hannafin, policy advisor, NAHT
  • Amanda Hulme, head teacher, Claypool Primary School and chair of NAHT’s assessment and accountability group
  • Kathryn James, deputy general secretary, NAHT
  • Anne Lyons, head teacher, St John Fisher Catholic Primary School, NAHT executive
  • Theo Smith, policy research analyst, NAHT
  • Michael Tidd, deputy head teacher, Edgewood Primary School and education commentator


Also advising the group are:

  • Shahed Ahmed OBE, head teacher, Elmhurst Primary School
  • Alex Smythe, head teacher, Newcroft Primary School


Representatives from the Department for Education (DfE), Ofqual, Ofsted and Standards and Testing Agency (STA) will be invited to attend and participate.

First published 15 December 2017