The government has decided that it is time to overhaul the current system of assessing primary school pupils. One idea is that pupils will now be ranked against one another throughout the country. This wide sweeping reform is, according to the government, going to provide more effective performance measures.
The current system, where pupils’ parents are informed which level their kids are at, will officially come to an end in September. This is down to the fact that the government believes the way in which the ‘level’ is measured, is vague and at times too complicated for parents to understand. Currently schools use levels to assess pupils from five years old to 14. The idea is that when children make the change from primary to secondary, they should be at a minimum of level 4 in science, maths and English.
In 2013 Nick Clegg came out defending the changes by saying; “For children to achieve their potential, we need to raise the bar.” The National Association of Head Teachers happens to disagree with the government’s enthusiasm for the new plans, with some leaders labeling it as destructive.
Schools are charged with the responsibility of designing their own assessment systems to be able to grade their pupils, in a way that suits both pupil and parent.
The National Association of Head Teachers took matters in to their own hands by publishing guidelines for schools to follow. They clearly set out the principles of how each school should create their own assessment systems. The commission that was set up to look at the issue came to the conclusion that they should keep what was good from the previous system, and put the flaws under a microscope to find a solution.
Despite the fact that the government has given power to individual schools to draw up new assessment guidelines, the commission was very firm when saying that the assessment across the whole country needs to be consistent.
When it addressed the idea the government had about ranking students against one another, the commission said that this would not be a step in the right direction. Instead it suggested that pupil’s should be assessed using objective criteria.
To get the best out of schools, The Department of Education has created a countrywide competition in which schools will compete to win 10,000 GBP of funding. To get the main prize the schools must devise a new assessment system which the judges will pick as the winner – the winning idea will be taken up by other schools.
Carl Browne writes for Enjoy Education, bespoke private tutoring and schools consultancy services.