Consultation proposing the end of KS1 SATs – Friday 31 March 2017

This week I report on the start of a consultation on reforms to the Primary Assessment system including the recommendations from the Rochford Review,  the Education Secretary has clarified the new GCSE 9 to 1 grading system and the findings from a consultation on peer support and children’s and young people’s mental health was published.

Consultation on reforms to the Primary Assessment system
Yesterday the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, set out proposals to replace Key Stage 1 SATs with a new baseline test at Reception to create a more “stable and proportionate” primary assessment system. The consultation proposes:

  • improvements to the early years foundation stage profile – consulting on how to make improvements and reduce burdens to the existing assessments on children’s readiness to start school at the end of their early education;
  • bringing forward the starting point for school progress measures during primary education – through the introduction of a new teacher-mediated assessment in Reception;
  • reviewing the statutory status of Key Stage 1 assessment – schools will still be provided with test materials to help them benchmark their pupils and inform parents;
  • reducing the burdens of teacher assessment – removing the requirement to submit teacher assessments where the assessment is not used in the accountability of schools;
  • considering whether there should be greater flexibility for teachers to use their judgement to assess pupils’ ability in writing.

A parallel consultation on the recommendations of the independent Rochford Review opened at the same time looking at the future of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils
working below the standard of national curriculum tests in England.  This is a diverse group of children – a high proportion have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), some are from disadvantaged backgrounds and some have English as an additional language.

Both consultations will last for 12 weeks, closing on 22 June.

Clarification around the new GCSE 9 to 1 grading system
The Education Secretary has written to the Chair of the Education Select Committee to provide certainty about how the new grading will work and, in particular, the consequences for individual pupils of achieving a grade 4 or grade 5.

Rather than reporting on the “good pass”, achieving a grade 4 will be regarded as a “standard pass” and a grade 5 as a “strong pass”.  Under the new system, a grade 4 and above will be equivalent to a C and above.  This is the level that pupils must achieve in order not to be required to continue studying English and maths post 16.  Therefore, the expectation is that employers, FE providers and universities that currently accept a grade C would continue recognising a grade 4.

The Government will publish not just the “standard pass” (grade 4 and above) but
also the “strong pass” (at grade 5 and above) in school performance tables.  Achievement at the “strong pass” will be one of the benchmarks used to measure the performance of schools.

Consultation outcome on peer support and children’s and young people’s mental health
The Government established a Steering Group and an Advisory Group in December 2015 to identifying ways to increase and improve the quality of peer support for mental wellbeing made available to children and young people by schools.  This week it published a report which summarises and presents the findings from the range of activities that were undertaken including workshops with stakeholders and young people and ‘flash’ Twitter polls.  A short analysis aimed at children and young people was also produced.