Inquiry follows primary assessment ‘chaos’

Inquiry follows primary assessment 'chaos'

MPs have launched an inquiry into primary assessment to investigate the impact of recent reforms on teaching and learning.

The education committee inquiry will consider the consequences of a year in which the government was forced to scrap baseline tests for infants and was embarrassed by a security breach that led to the cancellation of the key stage 1 spelling, punctuation and grammar test.

It also comes after just 53 per cent of year 6 pupils met the government’s new expected standard in their key stage 2 SATs, which former education secretary Nicky Morgan claimed was a “good start”, but the schools community rebuffed.

As part of the inquiry, MPs will examine the advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school and the next steps needed to improve the system.

They will ask if more training and support is needed for teachers and school leaders to help them to “design and implement effective assessment systems”.

The inquiry, one of three due to be launched during the party conference season, has been welcomed by Russell Hobby (pictured), the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, who called for a review of primary assessment in the wake of the blunders.

Hobby said he was pleased the committee had recognised that the “chaos and confusion surrounding assessment cannot continue.

“The poorly designed tests and last-minute changes we have seen this year do not add value to teaching.

The poorly designed tests and last-minute changes we have seen this year do not add value to teaching

“A complete review of primary assessment is needed to develop a system that works for pupils, parents, teachers and school leaders, rather than one that just ticks boxes for bureaucrats and politicians.”

Hobby is also leading an independent assessment review group into the primary tests that will report at the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the education committee said the MPs’ inquiry was likely to examine whether SATs focused too heavily on English and maths “leading to schools neglecting other areas of the curriculum like science and modern languages”.

Neil Carmichael, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said: “This summer saw the introduction of arguably the biggest reforms in primary assessment since external assessment was introduced 25 years ago.

“In this inquiry we want to look at the impact of the new national curriculum assessment and how the current system affects teaching and learning.”

Carmichael said news of test boycotts in certain parts of the country, plus data showing that almost half of pupils in England failed to meet new standards in reading, writing and maths, pointed to “unresolved issues in the way we prepare our children for secondary school and help them to reach their potential.

“As a committee we will want to examine how children are assessed, how well the SATs are being delivered, and what steps the government should take in the future to make sure our education system delivers for all children.”

The committee has called for written evidence, which can be submitted online until October 28. Public evidence sessions will begin in November.