The Department has undertaken investigative research in a small number of primary schools to look at good practice in preparing pupils for key stage 2 national curriculum tests. The findings will be considered by the Expert Group on Assessment as part of their wider research into the future of testing. The group is due to report in March 2009.
Qualifications taken by young people must equip them with the right knowledge and skills for employment, and we already involve employers directly in the design and delivery of many 14-19 qualifications. The extent to which qualifications meet employers’ requirements is considered as part of the accreditation process, and at the point of consideration for public funding.
Employers are closely involved in the development of both Diplomas and Apprenticeships. Sector Skills Councils and individual employers play key roles in each of the Diploma Development Partnerships to ensure that the new qualifications respond to the needs of different sectors. Apprenticeship frameworks meet the needs of employers through Sector Skills Councils working with employers in their sector to assess the suitability of qualifications in designing a framework.
This year the Department has made £500,000 available to Sector Skills Councils to assess sector skills needs in the 14-19 age range, and to incorporate those assessments into their Sector Qualifications Strategies. These Strategies will provide evidence for determining the types of 14-19 qualifications which are eligible for public funding.
A number of recent surveys have found that most parents agree that national testing enables them to compare one school’s performance against another, and that the performance of each school in tests and exams should be published and publicly available.
We have recently announced significant changes to the testing and accountability regime, and established an expert group on assessment to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on a wide range of assessment issues. The group is seeking the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, to inform its thinking.
The independent evaluation of single level tests within the Making Good Progress pilot includes consideration of pupils’ experience of testing. The interim report (Evaluation of the Making Good Progress, Research Report DCSF-RR065) sets out that the majority of interviewees who commented on pupils’ test experiences, considered that pupils were generally not stressed by the tests involved, because they were pitched at the ‘right’ level.