Q. What should we expect from primary assessment in the future?

Published: Friday, 23 June 2017

A. It’s no secret that there was wide dissatisfaction with the way that primary assessment worked last year. Now, the government has just released its primary assessment consultation. This gives an indication of what the DfE perceives to be the key issues and the direction of travel. 

The consultation asks questions about the early years foundation stage and ways in which this could be improved to better assess children’s knowledge. There is still an interest in lowering the baseline assessment from the end of Key Stage 1 to reception. The difficulties associated with this have already been documented and it will be interesting to see what better system might be constructed following the previous failed attempt to introduce one.

However, it seems clear that the DfE still favours this approach and the possible removal of statutory Key Stage 1 assessment. There is also the suggestion that statutory teacher assessment might be removed from Key Stage 2 and the possibility that the Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test remain non-statutory.

Other questions centre around the introduction of an online multiplication tables check during Key Stage 2 from 2019 with a large scale voluntary pilot in 2018. The check will take place but there is consultation about whether it should be in years 4,5 or 6.

The DfE is asking whether it would be beneficial to move towards a system that requires ‘best fit’ rather than ‘secure fit’ in relation to the teacher assessment framework. Concerns had been raised before about how limiting the ‘secure’ option can be, particularly in relation to pupils with SEND when it comes to writing.

There is also the Rochford review recommendations consultation taking place. This has a narrower brief and focuses on the possible removal of P scales in favour of the use of pre-key stage standards. It also asks about those pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning and whether statutory assessment should focus on cognition and learning.

Both consultations appear to have concerns about workload and manageability, which should be reassuring, provided that the answers are listened to that is.

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