Special needs expert to lead review of low attaining pupils’ assessment

Special needs expert to lead review of low attaining pupils' assessment

The government has launched a review into the accurate assessment of pupils with lower attainment. It will be headed by the executive headteacher of a special needs school.

A Department for Education press release states the review will focus on the more than 50,000 pupils whose ability is below the national curriculum standards in the key stage 1 and 2 tests.

Children with lower abilities are currently assessed using “P levels” – a framework for statutory reporting the ability levels of children with special educational needs. This contrasts with the lifting of a “levels” structure across mainstream education.

The review will consider the best way to assess pupil attainment and progress and to consider how pupils of all abilities can be included in the government’s assessment reforms.

It will be headed by Diane Rochford executive headteacher at the outstanding rated John F. Kennedy School in east London. She will work with a group of assessment and SEND experts, as well as those with a background working with disadvantaged children, to find “a solution for a comprehensive statutory assessment.”

Ms Rochford said: “Parents of pupils who, for a wide range of reasons, make attainment and progress at a slower rate, including those with special educational needs, deserve to have accurate information about how their children are doing at school.

“An appropriate means of statutory assessment will also ensure that heads and teachers are recognised for the work they do with this important group of learners.”

In a recent interview with Schools Week education secretary Nicky Morgan was pressed to explain how her plans for improving schools, particularly around coasting schools, would help children with special needs when their exam results were exempt from the plans.

Ms Morgan said at the time that she welcomed views from the sector.

“One of the things I would like to do is to have a way of looking at how do we run schools for children with special needs children? How is that working? Looking at planning, funding and high-needs funding.

“I am very open to listening on this, I don’t have a firm or fixed agenda.”

The review will culminate in a final report to be published by December 2015. Further information about members of the review group, and its terms of reference, will be released in September.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb (pictured) said: “Parents of pupils of all abilities have the right to know how their children are progressing at school. My concern is that too many pupils have been at risk of falling into a gap created by a lack of comprehensive assessment for pupils with lower levels of attainment.

“This review will help establish accurate information which they can use to hold their school to account. Crucially, it will also give credit to hard-working teachers who rightly have high expectations for all their pupils.

“I am extremely pleased the review will be led by Diane Rochford who is a well-respected expert in this field.”