Greening to reveal primary test changes ‘in coming weeks’

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.

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  1. The questions re selective schools on the consultation assume the Government’s proposals are a good thing. All they ask is how to tweak their system to make improve it. But a flawed system can’t be improved. Those who disagree with the grammar school ‘garbage’ (as Sam Freedman called it) should turn the questions around to say why the proposals are not acceptable.

  2. Brian Warshaw

    If Janet Downs is correct in what she heard, then the primary heads must ‘go beyond talking about boycotting next year’s SATs’; their boycott should exclude any preparation for them. The year should be spent in teaching to their planned curriculum, if the boycott is to be meaningful.

  3. Charlotte Haines Lyon

    As a parent and governor: bring on the boycott and yes please teach a full curriculum rather than to boycotted tests. My only question is why was there no boycott last year?

    • Charlotte, my Brother In Law was a governor at his local school and he said this over 5 years ago! I know several people who are teachers or TAs and most – not all (but theyre a VERY small minority) readily accept that the SATs etc are effectively worthless from the educational point of the children and the time and effort expended by all concerned would be better spent doing what they are employed for.

      Teachers know which children are doing well and those that are not. My kids and my grandkids had / have parents evenings where they talk to the teachers face to face and get updates on their progress etc. That should be all thats needed. All SATs etc do is enable some desk wallah at the DoES play with excel and produce a largely worthless ranking table.

  4. Pamela Milne

    The irony is is that it would make for a richer and deeper curriculum if SATS were to be abandoned. We would have a healthier, more able and balanced younger generation. A generation keen to follow dreams, one that would feel empowered and aspirational, one that would be able to develop skills and interests pertinent to them. Indeed, one which would demonstrate creativity of thought-most certainly more entrepreneurial. Oh, the dream!

  5. I led a motion in a Council of which I am an elected Member. The motion was to ask the Council to affirm its commitment to an inclusive education and not a system based upon selection and segregation. Ukip as expected (and they apologised to me beforehand for this…is in their manifesto) but the tories clearly have a hardened view on selective education and grammar schools…

  6. My child’s 2016 SATs results (which he took when he was 10) have been used to stream the year 7 intake into Maths and English bands, together with an autumn report with a progress flight line to a predicted Level 5 C Grade at GCSE for all subjects (when he is 16). He got 90% in maths or 110, 78% in SPaG, but only managed to get 98 lelow 100 in Reading. The Grade 1-9 GSCE “Buckets System” is now in operation with Literacy running througout KS3 subjects. Flight lines are like school-pupil risk assessments – pupils falling below will be in trouble as they will be viewed as negative attributes to the school, not just at Level 4/5 (C/C+) but now with Progress 8 at Level 7/8/9 (A/A*/A**). School reputations and teacher careers will be based on setting pupil flight paths as low as possible, thus ruining pupil motivation and aspiration, because setting them higher would be a very risky business! Also, if a child sees they are a C at aged 10 then this is all they will expect of themselves and teachers will only enable them to the C grade bearing in mind limited time and resources and dictat from senior management.