29 July 2015
Commenting on the findings of the leaked draft report of The Commission on Assessment without Levels, the publication of which had been delayed by Government until September 2015, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:"The report presents a serious challenge to Government policy on assessment: no wonder the Department for Education is delaying its publication.
"In the Commission’s view, the last 25 years of assessment policy have had seriously damaging effects. Their impact on learners has been, in the Commission’s words, ‘profoundly negative’. They have created a workload for teachers, which is over-demanding and educationally superfluous.
"Teachers will agree with these judgments, which confirm what they have been saying to ministers for a long time. Teachers will welcome, too, the Commission’s close concern for the effects of policy at classroom level. It is good to read a statement coming out of the DfE which is undogmatic, and which looks to schools for the further development of practice.
"In other important respects, however, the Commission is trying to square an impossible circle. It wants schools to prioritise formative assessment. Yet it has not dared to question our system of high stakes testing, through which the future of schools, teachers and head teachers is determined (1).
"It is the need to succeed within this system that pushes teachers away from formative assessment and towards teaching to the test. The Commission would like to liberate and re-professionalise teaching, but this cannot be done without wider changes than those it is recommending.