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Revamp Of Primary Assessment

Revamp Of Primary Assessment: Image shows teacher reading to children

After a twelve-week consultation, the UK government’s website announced this September its plans to, “create a stable and proportionate primary assessment system for the long-term.”  These reforms are intended to:

  • Introduce a new baseline assessment at the start of reception from September 2020
  • Make the Early Learning Goals clearer, aligning them closely with Key Stage 1 teaching.
  • Remove statutory end of key stage 1 assessments from September 2022 after establishing the reception baseline.
  • Remove statutory teacher assessments in reading and maths at the end of key stage 2 from September 2018.
  • Introduce an online multiplication tables check at the end of year 4 from September 2019.
  • Allow wider scope for teachers’ professional judgement in assessing pupils’ writing.

It is what these potentially mean in practice that will be of interest to stakeholders, not least teachers.

A concern that some may have with the Reception baseline is whether this data may be used to make school-level judgements about individual pupil and school performance. The response of the consultation seeks to make it clear that, while data from this assessment may be published at national level, it would not be published at school level nor would school data be shared with regional commissioners, local authorities or Ofsted. Rather, its purpose is intended to be used as a measure of progress that should correlate to the end of key stage two assessments. Furthermore, for those EYFS practitioners who responded to the consultation, the assessments aim to recognise the progress that children make at this stage.

The National Association of Head Teachers response was that the end of key stage 1 assessments should be made non-statutory after the adoption of the new baseline, which would also see the teaching in reception year align with English and Mathematics in line with key stage 1 I Can statements in these subjects. Downgrading the end of key stage 1 assessment and the English reading and maths at the end of key stage 2 from statutory to non-statutory is likely to be a welcome one for teacher workload.

The report also addressed a concern of some respondents that pupils with disabilities and specific learning difficulties may be unfairly disadvantaged in being able to demonstrate some of the writing components of the I Can statements for English. It is gratifying to note that the report refers to the duty that schools have to ensure that reasonable adjustments are in place to meet the needs of pupils with disabilities. This means that pupils who are not able to demonstrate components of the writing statements using standard methods can use their method of communication to demonstrate attainment. For those who, despite having reasonable adjustments in place, are not able to attain particular statements, then the pupil can be exempt from those statements. The teacher’s own professional judgement in deciding whether a pupil meets that attainment band overall is also upheld so that pupils with specific learning difficulties who meet the majority of the statements are not disadvantaged.

It will be interesting to see how these recommendations unfold in practice. Hopefully these changes will reduce teacher work-load, in the long term, as well as the pressure on pupils and it is welcome news that reasonable adjustments are a requirement for pupils at all key stages to help them access the curriculum and demonstrate attainment.

We would like to hear your comments about the proposals. If your school would like further information about reasonable adjustments for pupils in your classroom and how to implement them please give connect a call on 01270 449 165.

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