A quick recap (courtesy of schoolsweek.co.uk) of the headline issues raised in Justine Greening’s October 2016 announcement on primary assessment changes.


  1. The government will not impose maths and reading resits on children’s arrival in year 7

Instead it will focus on the steps needed for children “catches up on lost ground”. Re-sit papers will be available for teachers to use it if they wish.

  1. The key stage 1 spelling, punctuation and grammar test will remain non-statutory this year

Tests will continue to be at the teacher’s discretion.

  1. No new primary tests until 2018/19, pending the outcome of the consultation

A period of relative calm in the name of “greater stability”.

  1. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) will remain in place for 2017/18
  2. There will be a consultation on primary assessment in the new year

It will also look at the implications for accountability.

And it’s point five the implications for accountability that The Education Committee’s second evidence session, held on 18th January 2017, focused on.

Implications for accountability including the reliability of data, and the impact of assessment, as well as the design of the new tests and potential alternative assessment systems.

Say Rising Star Assessment, the key points included:

  • Writing assessment – with alternatives to teacher assessment of writing such as comparative judgement.
  • Baseline assessment – The NAHT assessment review group called for a return of reception baseline.
  • Getting rid of thresholds –  the value of scaled scores meaning that we don’t need to talk about ‘passing’ and ‘failing’.
  • Training for teachers – and the need to teachers to be adequately trained in assessment – particularly in areas of ‘data literacy’

Whilst accountability is of course important, says Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Headmasters, believes it is important to, “Review how statutory assessment data is used to hold schools to account”, he continues “Over-reliance on statutory assessment data raises the stakes of testing and ultimately distorts curriculum emphasis and outcomes….

Poor test results can trigger an avalanche of interventions, based on a presumption of school failure, which are distracting at best and career ending at worst. It is easy to understand why schools in this shadow struggle to recruit teachers and leaders.

Little wonder so many schools are now turning to new assessment tools in an effort to avoid a poor test results scenario and any subsequent avalanche of interventions.

Assessment that helps them spot lesson problems before they turn into test problems.

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