by Michael Dillon, Headteacher of Kew Riverside Primary School in Richmond, London.
On the face of it, the government’s rationale for change [i] is difficult to disagree with:
- ongoing, teacher-led assessment is a crucial part of effective teaching,
- schools should have the freedom to decide how to teach their curriculum and how to track the progress that pupils make,
- both summative teacher assessment and external testing are important,
- accountability is key to a successful school system, and therefore must be fair and transparent,
- measures of both progress and attainment are important for understanding school performance, and,
- a broad range of information should be published to help parents and the wider public know how well schools are performing.
As a Headteacher I would always support high expectations, setting targets, being accountable, having transparency and improving communication with parents. And it goes without saying that I always want to improve teaching and learning – for both teachers and children.
In my opinion, simply removing the National Curriculum levels will not necessarily achieve the desired goals listed above. There is a real danger that we will simply be replacing one arbitrary measure of achievement with another. And more importantly, unless we work together as a profession, valuable resources (time and money) will be wasted on inventing hundreds of different assessment frameworks that will not be valid or reliable.
The main issues I see at the moment are the sheer pace of change and the lack of information and advice available. The idea that Headteachers can introduce a new ‘reliable and valid’ assessment framework that will achieve the above outcomes, ready for September, from a practical perspective, is unachievable. Continue reading →