Today sees the launch of the Primary School Assessment campaign, More Than a Score, supported by the ACP. Organisations from across the world of education are today launching More Than a Score, a coalition calling for a better approach to assessment and accountability in primary schools. The campaign, which links parents’ groups, child psychotherapists, psychologists, trade unions and experts in early years and primary education, maintains that the current system of standardised testing in England is deeply flawed and results in a narrowed education as schools concentrate on teaching to the test.
Panel members who launched the campiagn were:
Duncan Bathgate, Headteacher, Bealings School, Suffolk
Siobhan Collingwood, Headteacher, Morecambe Bay School, Lancashire
Gemma Haley, Let Our Kids be Kids supporter
Madeleine Holt, Rescue Our Schools co-founder
Rosamund McNeil, Head of Education and Equality, NUT
Alison Roy, Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP)
More Than a Score calls on Justine Greening to suspend arrangements for primary assessment in 2016/17 and to convene a fully independent and comprehensive review to produce recommendations for the revision of assessment in the early years and primary schools. The Secretary of State has so far promised a limited consultation by the government. Meanwhile, this year’s Year Six face the very same SATS which last year wrote off almost half of eleven year olds as “not secondary school ready”.
More Than a Score believes that assessment of children’s progress is an essential part of good teaching, but must be seen as separate from systems designed to judge the effectiveness of schools. If this is not done, then children’s learning but also their emotional wellebing, is harmed.
Despite evidence of deep concern among parents, teachers and head teachers, the government has made no substantial changes to the assessment system in 2017. More than a Score seeks a meeting with Justine Greening as soon as possible to discuss its concerns. More Than a Score also maintains the current SATs amount to an unrealistic set of standards which have the potential to undermine children’s sense of themselves as learners, as well as denying children access to a broad, creative curriculum. There is evidence of an increase in numbers of children suffering from school-related anxiety, mental health problems, and in numbers who become disengaged from learning.
Pressure on schools to reach the standards also results in the practical exclusion of large groups of students, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), from participation in mainstream learning activities. No mention is made of SEND pupils in the government’s recent announcement. Teachers’ morale has also suffered, contributing to increasing problems of recruitment and retention. The campaign believes that children, teachers and parents deserve better than this.
Supporters can add their names to the More than a Score call to action at:
See the full press release here
For information about a conference organised to explore these issues, see: https://morethanascoredecemberconference.eventbrite.co.uk
For press inquiries, contact: Madeleine Holt, More than a Score/ Rescue our Schools. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Roy, Association of Child Psychotherapists:
"ACP members working as child and adolescent psychotherapists in child mental health teams are seeing more children with anxiety related symptoms. In order for young children to thrive and develop healthy brains, they need time and space to learn about themselves and their environment through play. This should be seen as a priority, as play develops self-confidence, self- awareness and supports psychological well-being. We are concerned therefore, that constant testing could have a detrimental effect on brain development and the mental wellbeing of children."
Let Our Kids Be Kids:
"As damaging psychologically as the testing may be, a major concern is the narrowing of the 2014 curriculum in order to pressure schools into teaching to the tests - this causes far more wide-ranging damage, in terms of switching children off learning, lowering self-esteem, and limiting creative thinking, individuality and the value of experiential learning."
John Coe, National Association for Primary Education:
"We argue for improved assessment of progress which does not harm children's learning. Assessment which does not trust the judgement of the teachers who know the children well and which purports to have faith in snapshot tests of just two aspects of learning is deeply flawed and the inevitable result is a distortion of learning and an unhelpful guide to future progress. We seek to do so much better for the children."
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT:
"Primary teachers do not want to endure another year like last year. The NUT warmly welcomes this campaign. We want to see the whole world of education united in making clear to the Secretary of State that assessment in primary schools is working neither for pupils, nor for teachers."
Madeleine Holt, Co-founder, Rescue Our Schools:
"If Britain is to punch above its weight in an uncertain future, we need a highly creative and resilient workforce. Our supporters - parents, teachers and anyone who cares about education - tell us constantly that young children are being deprived of both arts subjects and a creative approach to learning, and becoming increasingly stressed by a test-driven curriculum. We have to stop this, take the politics out of schools, and find a consensus on what a good education looks like."
Nancy Stewart, Vice Chair, TACTYC (Association for Professional Development in Early Years):
"Plans for baseline assessment of children starting school have been put on hold following a misjudged scheme trialled last year. It is imperative now to take an informed look at what kind of assessment will really serve children best from the early years onward."