- The Rochford Review Group was established to advise upon the assessment of pupils who don’t meet the standards required to take the national curriculum tests.
- The final Rochford Review report recommends removing the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
- P scales presume linear progression, which does not necessarily capture the way pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties make progress.
- The report also recommended that interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests should be made permanent.
The final report of The Rochford Review was published in October 2016. The Rochford Review Group was established in 2015 by the Minister for Schools with responsibility for statutory assessments. Its remit was to consider the best way to ensure that pupils who have not completed the relevant key stage programmes of study, and are therefore working below the standard of statutory testing arrangements, ‘have the opportunity to demonstrate attainment and progress’.
Interim recommendations were published in December 2015 to provide a solution for assessing pupils working below the standard of the tests in 2015 to 2016 not currently assessed using P scales.
These interim recommendations created additional standards to sit alongside those in the interim teacher assessment frameworks. These were used in 2015 to 2016.
Following the publication of its interim recommendations, the review continued with the second phase of its work to recommend longer-term statutory assessment arrangements for use in future years.
The interim and final reports should be considered together.
Remove the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests should be made permanent, and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
These two recommendations are the core of the review, i.e. remove 1 and replace with 2. The group made these recommendations for the following reasons:
- P scales were designed to sit below L1 of the national curriculum. With the removal of levels and the redesign of the curriculum, they are a staircase to nowhere.
- Although in principle P scales gave schools a common language and milestones, in practice they were not formally moderated. This meant they were interpreted differently and therefore did not give a robust basis from which to share information and make valid comparisons. There is an implied criticism that P scales were not used widely enough for partnership moderation between schools and this perhaps explains recommendations 6 through to 10.
- Members of the review group expressed serious concerns that many schools use the P scales as a curriculum rather than an assessment tool. This limits the range of learning experiences as well as the variety of assessment strategies.
- P scales presume linear progression. This is a rational assumption for most pupils. It does not necessarily capture the way pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties make progress. Also, it encourages moving on and not consolidation.
- The new pre-key stage standards were designed to mesh with the revised curriculum and assessment arrangements. Therefore, they provide an inclusive approach which allows staff within the same school and in different schools to make valid judgements.
- P scales are based on a ‘best-fit’ judgement. The new statutory arrangements for teacher assessment and the interim standards use a ‘secure-fit’ approach.
Schools should assess pupils’ development in all four areas of need, but statutory assessment for pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning.
Introduce a statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the following seven aspects of cognition and learning:
Schools should be free to decide their own approach to making these assessments matched to the curriculum they use and the needs of their pupils.
ITT and CPD should support greater understanding of assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, especially those pupils with SEND who are not engaged in subject-specific learning.
Schools with demonstrable good practice should actively share their expertise and practice. Schools in need of support should actively seek out and create links with schools that can help to support them.
Schools should work collaboratively to develop an understanding of good practice in assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests.
A statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject specific-learning on the seven areas of cognition and learning but no requirement to submit this assessment information to the DfE. Schools must be able to provide evidence to support a dialogue with parents and carers, inspectors, school governors and those engaged in peer review.
The report recommends that further work is done to consider the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with EAL.
Implications for schools
Governments commission reviews with a clear remit. This remit creates a framework for any recommendations and signals to the review group what the government would like to hear. In this case, asking the Rochford Review Group to: ‘Consider how P scales fit with the wider approach to assessment and advise on whether they need to be revised in light of the new national curriculum’ when levels have been dropped was inviting radical change. Schools should anticipate that these recommendations will be implemented as part of the wider changes to assessment.
However, currently, the recommendations are just that, so schools are not required to implement them and have time to plan. The day the report was published, the Secretary of State announced that early in 2017 the government would launch a consultation on the whole of primary assessment and the implications for accountability. This will cover key issues, including the best starting point to measure the progress that children make in primary school, and the role and operation of teacher assessment. The recommendations of The Rochford Review will be part of this wider consultation.
The Secretary of State also announced that there will not be any new national tests or assessment arrangements before the 2018/19 academic year. In the interim period, schools should continue to use the pre-key stage interim standards and P scales for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests. The use of P scales remains a statutory requirement. At the time of writing, in March 2017, the consultation had not been launched. This is perhaps not surprising given the intense political activity in other areas, but hopefully a sign that important changes will not be rushed.
- The Rochford Review: Final report Review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, STA, October 2016: http://bit.ly/RochfordReview
Use the following items in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:
- Checklist - Pupils with SEND showing progress pre-Key Stage 139.62 KB
- Checklist - Pupils with SEND showing progress pre-Key Stage 244.56 KB
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