Heads told to expect end to ‘secure fit’ writing test model from 2017-18

Heads told to expect end to 'secure fit' writing test model from 2017-18

Headteachers across England have been advised to anticipate an end to the current “secure fit” model for teacher assessments of writing from 2017-18, Schools Week has learned.

The government has been consulting on plans to move to a “best fit” model, which would place more weight on the judgment of teachers.

Under the current secure-fit system, pupils at key stage 1 and 2 must meet every single assessment criteria in order to reach the government’s “expected standard”.

This has led to criticism from school leaders, who believe it is too rigid.

A best-fit system would, the government says, allow teachers “greater discretion” in determining whether a pupil’s writing is at a particular standard overall.

The government is not expected to respond until September, but the National Association of Head Teachers has written to its members following talks with the government, urging them not to prepare for further tests under the current marking system.

In the letter, seen by Schools Week, the union advises heads to expect the switch to best-fit to be included in the government’s response, and to come into effect from 2017-18.

The NAHT says it has been “encouraged by the level of engagement from government” on the issue and is “hopeful of an announcement to this effect when the government publishes its response to the consultation after the summer break”.

It goes on to say that, while it cannot guarantee things will change, it is urging all members “not to do any further work or planning using the current writing frameworks and await the government’s response to the consultation in September”.

The plans to change the way writing is assessed form part of a wider consultation on primary testing, which includes proposals to scrap key stage 1 SATs and replace them with a new baseline assessment for reception children.

The letter in full

Since the introduction of the interim teacher assessment frameworks for writing, and our members experiences of using them last year, NAHT has been campaigning for changes to the assessment of writing at key stage 1 and key stage 2.

The government consultation on primary assessment stated that the interim versions of the frameworks are being reviewed in all subjects, working with the teaching profession and experts, and this includes a proposed change to a more flexible approach to the assessment of English writing. It also recognised that there was a desire to move quickly on this and indicated that the DfE would be open to making changes introduce changes for the 2017 to 2018 academic year.

Our response to the consultation on primary assessment was clear that firstly there must be a move away from “secure fit” to a more flexible approach to the assessment of writing to ensure that  pupil’s with particular areas of weakness are not disadvantaged in meeting the expected standard. Secondly, the “pupil can” statements need to be reworked in order to rebalance the assessment to take account of both the creative and technical aspects of writing. NAHT members strongly believe that these changes must take effect as soon as possible and we therefore support these changes being implemented in September 2017.

The government consultation set out that the DfE will not make its formal response to the consultation until September.

NAHT has been encouraged by the level of engagement from government on this issue. NAHT and other unions have been clear in our response to government that schools would welcome an end to secure fit for writing for 2017-18. On this basis we are hopeful of an announcement to this effect when the Government publish their response to the consultation after the summer break.

Whilst we cannot guarantee that this will happen, we urge all members not to do any further work or planning using the current writing frameworks and await the government’s response to the consultation in September.