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Primary Assessment in England

Volume 624: debated on Thursday 30 March 2017

Last October, I made a statement to Parliament about the primary assessment and accountability system in England. In that statement, I reaffirmed the importance of a good primary education, and particularly the importance of mastering the basics of literacy and numeracy, to ensure that every child is given the best chance to succeed in life, whatever their background. I also recognised that we must move to a settled system which is ambitious, supports teachers to help every child to reach their potential, allows schools to benchmark their own performance, and enables them to be held to account in a way that is fair and accurate.

Since then, we have taken a number of steps to improve the operation of the assessment system. We have worked with the teaching profession to produce new guidance for the moderation of teacher assessment, to improve the quality and consistency of that moderation, and we have provided additional training for local authority moderators. We have also taken steps to improve the test experience for pupils this year.

We have also talked to headteachers, teachers and others about the longer-term issues that need to be resolved to establish a settled, sustainable system. We are today launching a public consultation on the primary assessment system in England. Our consultation document, “Primary Assessment in England”, sets out wide-ranging proposals for improving our primary assessment system. These include how the system can help to prepare children to succeed at school, the starting point from which to measure the progress that children make in primary school, how we can ensure that the primary assessment system is proportionate, and how end of key stage assessment can be improved, particularly in the case of the statutory teacher assessment frameworks.

It is important that our assessment system can assess the progress and attainment of children of all abilities. The report of the independent Rochford review, also published last October, set out a number of recommendations to improve the way that the attainment and progress of children working below the level of the national curriculum tests is assessed in primary schools. The recommendations, if adopted, would result in significant changes and it is important that we hear the views of those who would be affected, and particularly teachers and others working with children who have special educational needs. That is why we are today also publishing a consultation document on the Rochford proposals and their possible implementation.

During the consultation period, which will last for 12 weeks, we want to hear from as many headteachers and teachers as possible to gather their views and feed them into our final decisions. I would encourage all those with an interest in primary education to engage with these consultation exercises and to share their opinions and insights.

Copies of these consultation documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.