BLOG: Assessing the expert view – ‘could do better’

Our CEO Steve Docking takes a look at the findings of a select committee tasked with reviewing the current guidelines surrounding primary assessment.

Last week a panel of academic experts were called in front of a Government select committee to offer their opinions on reforming primary assessment. This meeting took place in London in a ministerial discussion chamber and produced the following points:

1. Teachers should put together a portfolio of writing to give to other schools in order to check their marking is accurate.
2. We should make trainee teachers more aware of assessment.
3. Testing should be adaptive – no, I don’t know either.
4. We should have a baseline to work from, so we can band children. Didn’t we just get rid of levels?

I think after that they ran out of the backs of fag packets to write things on or I just lost the will to keep reading the findings.

The problem with putting experts in a room is they feel compelled to talk and when they do, sadly, people listen. Sometimes they even take what is said at face value and just implement the opinions as gospel. Perhaps the assembled panel of ministers would have been better nipping out to the nearest primary schools, choosing one each, gathering a set of children’s books and just having a look at what really takes place every day?

Great schools do great things daily. The problem is not all schools are great. However, the nonsense the panel stated astounds me.

Keep it all simple. Follow the curriculum, adapt it when it doesn’t meet your needs, enrich young lives as much as possible and children will excel. Assess the outcomes based on what you teach, recap occasionally to make sure it’s embedded and when it comes to the tests you won’t even have to revise. Assessments should be regarded as “another day at the office” and not yet another opportunity to waste time and money tinkering with the status quo.

As for our experts…asking other schools to mark children’s work? Really! As Ronan Keating once said: ‘you say it best when you say nothing at all.’