This week, the government have announced their proposals to remove the controversial SATs for 6 and 7 year olds.
The standardised assessment tests have come under scrutiny for some time with teachers feeling the need to teach to the test. This has prevented them from delivering enriched learning opportunities beyond the curriculum.
The introduction of more rigorous tests last year saw a rise in teacher, leader and parental concerns over the wellbeing of stressed 6 and 7 year olds, worried about being labelled a ‘failure.’ Hundreds of parents pulled their children out of school in protest.
Proposals this week to scrap the tests were therefore met with optimism.
In their place, the Department for Education (DfE) are proposing a new assessment for students starting reception and have said that ‘this should be done in such a way that pupils do not realise they are being assessed.’ These will be used as baseline tests to measure progress at the end of KS2 and the government may sample schools.
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has praised the decision, and suggested ‘[it] will help every school deliver a rich educational experience for all children.’ The NAHT have been working with the DfE on the changes.
Some however, are being cautiously optimistic. The government have ‘listened’ and ‘consulted’ before, but never quite got it right.
Although ‘pleased’ with the proposal, Dr Mary Bousted from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said that the new tests in reception may ‘disrupt’ young children settling into a school environment.
Teachers themselves are calling for more flexibility with the test criteria. Only 53% of students achieved the expected standard in last year’s tests and students with 17 out of 18 ‘failed to meet’ the standard. Young children with educational needs were seen to be especially let down by the system. Educators have therefore welcomed the opportunity to consult on a ‘best fit’ model.
NAHT’s Russell Hobby agrees there is ‘more to be accomplished,’ but ‘good progress’ has been made.
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Jemma, is our Project Co-Ordinator here at Athona and also a qualified teacher. During Jemma’s teaching career, she held the responsibility of Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English and was a mentor to a number of trainee teachers. Jemma spends her time regularly writing topical and latest industry blog posts and is the main point of contact for our international candidates. More recently, Jemma has been coordinating the training we provide to our teachers and schools.