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Education in the media: 20 October

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Today’s news review looks at coverage of our changes to the primary assessment system.

Changes to primary assessment

On Wednesday, 19 October, the Education Secretary Justine Greening published a Written Ministerial Statement in Parliament, committing not to introduce any more tests in primary school until 2018/19 and dropping the proposal to introduce Year 7 resits for those who don’t achieve the expected level at Key Stage 2 (the end of primary school). The proposals instead suggest a targeted package of support for teachers to help struggling students.

The Education Secretary also announced that there would be a consultation in the new year on the future of primary assessment.

The National Association of Head Teachers has supported the move, while the Association of School College Leaders and the National Union of Teachers have praised Justine Greening for recognising the need for change.

There has been widespread coverage of this announcement, including in The Guardian, BBC News, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.

A summary of the changes are outlined below:

  • Primary schools will not be required to introduce any new tests before the 2018 to 2019 academic year.
  • New guidance on the moderation of the teacher assessed Key Stage 2 writing test will be introduced. These have been developed in conjunction with the profession. This will be accompanied by mandatory training for local authority test moderators to ensure it is applied in a consistent way.
  • The proposal to introduce statutory maths and reading resits for children who do not achieve the expected level at the end of primary school will be replaced with a targeted package of support, developed in conjunction with experts like the Education Endowment Foundation, for secondary schools to help these pupils catch up. Support will include new maths and reading papers for teachers to use if they choose to.
  • The Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test sat by children in year 2 (the end of key stage 1) will remain voluntary this year.
  • A consultation looking at a number of key, long-term issues, such as the best starting point from which to measure progress in primary school and the role and operation of teacher assessment, will be launched early in the New Year.
  • Confirmation that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, which assesses a child’s level of development at the end of reception, will be retained for a further year to 2017/18.
  • A reiteration of the commitment that no decisions on a school’s performance will be made on the basis of the 2016 test results alone. Instead these will be used as the starting point for a discussion about what support the school needs to improve.
  • The online multiplication tables check will be rolled out from the school year 2018 to 2019, following consideration in the consultation of how these should be implemented most effectively.

The full Ministerial Statement can be found here.

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