ATL comment on primary assessment proposals

Press release
30 March 2017 by ATL Media Office
Commenting on the Government’s proposals for primary assessments, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “ATL welcomes today’s proposals that could see the end of national tests for seven-year-olds.

"We have long campaigned for an end to national testing for all primary school children and we are pleased that the Government appears, finally, to be listening.

“As we learned from last year’s tests, seven-year-olds are too young for formal exams and suffer stress and worry at a time when they’re supposed to be learning to love school and grow in confidence rather than fearing failure.

“In today’s proposals, the Government also suggests re-introducing baseline assessment at the start of school. We have shown through our research that national assessment of five-year-olds disrupts the start of school at a time when young children need to feel settled, not judged. Every teacher uses their expertise to assess where every child starts and how they need to develop, so we question whether this needs a Government-prescribed assessment which isn’t reliable enough to provide a measure of progress.

“Introducing national testing of times tables seems to be more about providing data to Ministers than actually helping teachers teach and children learn. We know teachers already make sure this vital maths skill is part of children’s daily lessons and is regularly checked within class so it doesn’t need a national test.

“Teachers will welcome commitments to look again at what areas they assess in children’s writing. Recent changes have led to a needless focus on making sure children use semi-colons and fronted adverbials rather than first developing their love of language and creativity.

“Looking at proposals for Key Stage 2, we know that last year's tests for 11-year-olds were too difficult, caused distress for children and confusion for teachers through chaotic implementation where nobody knew what to expect or what the pass marks were. Some changes have been made for this year, and we will be working closely with our members to understand whether those changes have gone far enough.

“We look forward to engaging with this consultation and working towards a deeper change to assessment and accountability. We hope the Government will continue to listen and act upon the expertise of teachers and leaders.”

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