Primary assessment

The pressure on children and schools from a broken system can’t go on. Teachers are adamant that the fiasco of primary assessment 2015/16 must not be repeated this year. Primary assessment is not fit for purpose. It is harming children’s learning and, in some cases, their well-being.

primary assessment

primary assessment

Justine Greening’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but it will not substantially change the situation facing teachers and their pupils this year.  There is more that needs to be done, and every reason for teachers to continue their campaign.

What the NUT working with other unions have achieved through building the pressure on the DfE:

  • The DfE has admitted that there are flaws in the 2016 data. As a result it must not be used as the sole means to pass judgement on a school.
  • The proposed KS2 resits for Year 7 pupils, a Conservative manifesto commitment, have been scrapped
  • There will be no new tests until at least 2018-19, meaning new multiplication tests for KS2 children will not be brought in this year
  • The KS1 SPaG test will remain non-statutory this year
  • There will be new guidance for the moderation of teacher assessment of writing, with mandatory local authority training.
  • There is an indication that floor and coasting standards will be used to identify the need to support ‘current leadership teams’, rather than to trigger intervention.
  • The long-delayed Rochford Review for children working below the national curriculum has been published
  • There will be consultation on the role of teacher assessment and accountability.

However, the unions must continue to build pressure and negotiate with the DfE to secure real change for children and schools. The reforms that have been secured do not go far enough to improve the experience of children and teachers.

  • Judgements about pupils’ writing will still be made on the basis of a secure fit, rather than a best fit model, and the tick-box, ‘prove it’ approach to assessment has not gone away. 
  • The inappropriate KS1 and KS2 reading tests will be largely unchanged
  • The much-criticised KS2 SPaG test remains statutory
  • Data from the discredited 2016 assessment round will still be used to influence judgments of schools. Because coasting schools judgements are based on three years of data, schools may be impacted by the problems of 2015-16 until the end of 2017-18
  • There is no real improvement to the situation for children with SEND
  • The consultation offered must address teachers and parents’ fundamental concerns about the current system- the narrowing of the curriculum, impact on inclusion, and pressure on children and teachers.

How you can get involved

As a teacher or school governor

We want to know how schools and teachers are being affected by the 2016 results. We want to know how the data from this year is being applied to schools, for example changes to staffing, governors or curriculum, and being used in teachers’ appraisals and to determine pay. Email to share experiences in your area.

As a head teacher

The Union is bringing together a network of head teachers through a series of regional meetings in the Autumn term. If you would like to hear more about these meetings or would like to be notified of other developments please email with your name, school and region.

As an NUT member

Join our primary campaign activists’ network. Email for more details.

As a concerned parent or member of the public

organisations such as Parents Defending Education, Rescue Our Schools, and Let Our Kids Be Kids are helping parents and the public to fight for education in their area.

Ideas and resources

You Can’t Test This – East London

'Can't Test This'

You Can’t Test This week is when teachers show that there is value to all of the learning and development that children do that isn’t currently recognised by the restrictive and reductive system of school accountability that is used to assess children.

From using maths skills to crack codes, to sharing poetry, creative writing or reading without stopping to count the pronouns and note the adjectives, do something different for You Can’t Test this week and claim back your classroom. Downloads are available for a You Can't Test This ideas sheet, flyer and Powerpoint.

Keep Schools Creative – Northern region

Keeping Schools Creative @schoolscreative

Started by young teachers in Newcastle, teachers are running events and education debates on keeping creative teaching (not just creative subjects) in schools. You can download their Banner for your own use.

The Alternative Classroom – Lancaster and Morecambe

Teachers have been offering educational, fun and interesting activities for children at stall in town centres at weekends. Talking to parents at these stalls about the learning that happens through these activities helps to demonstrate to parents an alternative vision of classroom practice, and how teachers want to be able to teach their children.


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