Justine Greening will make a new announcement about primary assessments in the next few weeks, she told delegates at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit in Newcastle.
When asked about possible changes to the accountability system at primary school key stages, Greening remained tight-lipped but promised more information in the coming weeks.
It will be soon. Hold that pen. Keep it poised
She also did not cite any evidence that sitting an entry exam could accurately predict a child’s ability, when pressed by Schools Week. Greening is currently backing government plans to expand selection by ability and re-introduce new grammar schools.
On primary assessments, Ms Greening said: “Let me set it all out in the round. I don’t want to pre-empt what I’m going to say.
“It will be soon. Hold that pen. Keep it poised.” Her aide added: “In the coming weeks.”
The Department for Education made numerous changes to primary assessments during their introduction last year – changing almost 30 different parts of guidance documents, as Schools Week has previously reported.
The change to primary tests last year has resulted in a more “rigorous” scoring system, in which parents receive their child’s raw score and an explanation if where the number is compared against the national average.
It is unclear what Greening’s next step on assessments will be, however teaching unions are planning to ballot members over a potential boycott of the tests.
Greening was also pressed on her flagship grammar school policy – which was not mentioned by name once during her keynote speech.
Greening said she was “an accountant at heart” and liked to dig into the data and evidence before claiming to understand a topic.
Asked for the evidence which proves a child’s academic ability could be accurately assessed in a written test and therefore used for selection, the minister said:
“What we’re consulting on is how we can modernise that test.
“It’s not about a return to the 11+ at all, what we’re talking about is entry to selective schools not just at 11 – or how it might just be for particular subjects if children are particularly good at those. So this is about fixing some of those issues.”
Of the 30 questions asked in the government’s consultation on selection, zero questions mention testing accuracy or modernisation.