Primary SATs fiasco

Dear colleague

The Primary Assessment Fiasco

Assessment at KS1 and KS2 is badly planned and chaotically managed. It is not surprising that teachers are up in arms.

In the face of teachers’ anger and dismay, the DfE has made some last-minute concessions. The timetable for moderation of teacher assessment has become more realistic. The notion of redefining the “expected standard” at a higher level has been watered down, though not entirely abandoned. There is less explicit emphasis on a tick-box approach to the assessment of writing.

But many problems remain. The DfE has not ruled out using 2016 assessment results in making decisions about supposed “underperformance”. The results of SPAG tests will still be referred to, in determining pupils’ levels of achievement. Tick sheets may have been shelved, but teachers are still required to use the criteria on which they are based, and are pushed towards overloading of pupils with work, to ensure that these criteria can be met. Many children with dyslexia and SEND will be assessed against criteria that are indifferent to their needs and do not allow recognition of their abilities. Above all, instead of enabling a broad and balanced learning experience, the demands of testing narrow the focus of primary education to numeracy and literacy.

Policy and guidance are constantly changing, in a situation which is deeply unsatisfactory for children and for teachers. The Union is therefore calling on Nicky Morgan to cancel primary assessment arrangements in 2015/16. Primary assessment will be a major issue at the Union’s Conference, and the campaign will continue into the new term. In the meantime, we are asking you to:

keep up to date with the campaign, and get Union advice by visiting our website
use the Union’s letter template to email your concerns to your MP
tweet #cancelthetests about why Morgan must act
add your name to the 53,000 others that have signed the teacher-initiated petition to cancel the KS2 tests and the 17,000 who are calling for a return to teacher assessment at KS1
We’re working closely with other unions and further advice on workload will be available next week on the website.

Don’t buy baseline

With its allies in the Better without Baseline campaign, the Union has campaigned hard against Baseline Assessment and the flawed system of school accountability it supports. News reports now suggest that the Government is reconsidering the future of baseline – though this is by no means confirmed.

The Union is pressing the Government to drop Baseline Assessment, and encouraging schools not to participate. Baseline Assessment isn’t statutory. Schools have a choice, and they can choose not to opt in.

In 2015 more than 2,000 schools did not opt in to Baseline Assessment. This year make sure your school joins them.

Visit http://www.teachers.org.uk/baseline for campaign resources and the facts on Baseline Assessment
Tweet #notbuyingbaseline and email baseline@nut.org.uk if you’re not buying it
Talk to your school governors about not opting in.
Yours sincerely

CHRISTINE BLOWER
NUT General Secretary

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