Schools minister Nick Gibb has u-turned on the date by which primary teachers must submit key stage 2 writing assessments after unions raised concerns.
In a letter to Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Mr Gibb today confirmed the decision.
Last year, schools had until the end of June to submit teacher assessment data for key stage 2 writing tests, but it was announced this year that the deadline would be brough forward by a month.
Schools were concerned about the short timeframe in which the assessments had to be turned around after the SATs in May.
Today, however, Mr Gibb said “for this year only” he would “relax” the deadline.
It will also mean the deadline for key stage 1 assessment is re-instated to the end of June.
The NAHT met with Mr Gibb last week to discuss teachers’ concerns about the changes in primary assessment.
In his letter to Mr Hobby, Mr Gibb wrote: “The rationale for setting the earlier deadline this year was to ensure that all schools submit their teacher assessment data at the same time, after their own internal validation processes have been completed, but prior to any external moderation taking place. This move would mean fairer and more robust arrangements for the collection of teacher assessment data.
“However, I am prepared, for this year only, to relax the deadlines in recognition of the unique circumstance of teachers working with a new framework to new standards. I have asked the STA to amend their Assessment and Reporting Arrangements to reflect an amended deadline for KS1 and KS2 of 30 June and to communicate the change to all primary schools.”
Mr Gibb said he hoped this move would “allay teachers’ concerns” about workload and disruption and praised the NAHT for not using “the media to scaremonger”.
Mr Hobby said: “We’re pleased that the government has listened to headteachers’ feedback on writing assessment. Dialogue has led to some productive developments, which is exactly how these things should pan out. There are still areas of doubt to resolve and a bigger picture on primary assessment generally about which we are very concerned.”
Earlier this week, the National Union of Teachers called for the suspension of SATs this year because of their concerns about the framework changes.
This week, concerns were raised about the exemplification materials for writing and confusion over “exclamation sentences”, which schools were told must be a full sentence, include a verb, and start with “how” or “what”. Professionals said it would take writing style back to the 19th century.
In response to this, Mr Gibb said he remained “committed” to “high standards” and the STA would review the documents at the end of the year.
The STA has also produced a document explaining this year’s primary assessment changes, which can be found here.