There’s no point in reporting KS1 and KS2 assessments

Headteacher Phil Cooper says guidance is needed on how primary schools will be expected to assess pupils without any Sats data – ideally by not requiring anything this year
14th May 2020, 4:41pm
Phil Cooper


There’s no point in reporting KS1 and KS2 assessments
Ofsted: Schools Now Less Likely To Get 'good' Or 'outstanding' Judgements, Data Shows

In a parallel universe, where the coronavirus never happened, it's business as usual.

In that universe, Sats week is coming to an end with anxious teachers, parents and pupils hoping for the best.

Typically, we would have worked intensively, approximately from that period just before lockdown up until the end of last week to get them to where we would like them to be.

Facing reality

However, on Planet Lockdown (aka real life), we are facing a very different set of circumstances. While we would hope that as many pupils as possible will retain the skills and knowledge they have built up it is more likely that the vast majority will experience a significant dip…the Covid dip. 

All those children who, at the end of spring term, were not on track to achieve the expected standard or greater depth will surely, without all that support and input, remain at those assessment points. 

No amount of virtual schooling can replace the professional input, care and support of all our skilled teaching and learning staff at this time of year.

Thankfully (so to speak), we're in a world that will not have the usual forms of pupil assessment, given the huge unfairness this would put on children, teachers and schools. But where does that leave us?

We're told that primary school performance measures will not be published for the 2019/20 academic year. But that won't necessarily stop the Department for Education (DfE) asking us to assess our pupils and report them without the data being published. 

And we all know that not published doesn't mean not used.

Where do we exist?

If that happens, we need to know which universe we exist in. Are we going to be told to submit assessments based on where they could have been or where they will be?

In the parallel universe, everything would be data driven so we could have projected where the children would be. Parents would be happy; children would be happy; and my data would look great! 

But that's not where we are. Key stages 2 and 3 teachers have to deal with the Covid-gap children transitioning up and that's not fair - data for where children would be will be inaccurate and distorted.

Back to our real-world assessments: a true reflection of where the children will be at the end of the year. In this scenario, we'll have unhappy parents and disillusioned children. 

There will be pupil and teacher cries of 'It wasn't our fault!' and school data will be jeopardised, as outcomes must be lower than expected. On the flip side, there will be realistic assessment with realistic progress targets.

There's always a scenario three of course: in which DfE guidance is woolly and schools assess based on a mix of insights they gather by going between the two different universes.

This would be a problem for two reasons: the data being used would be meaningless, and it would create a hole in the space-time continuum.

Solving the conundrum 

So, what's the answer?

If we do teacher assess internally, nothing should be reported. Non-published should be replaced by non-reported with no outcomes submitted.

Schools could choose to give an estimated or real assessment to pupils and even go as far as sharing them with secondary schools for Year 6 pupils. 

But that would be it. This would mean that, ultimately, all that gets lost is one set of outcomes now and one set of progress figures for those pupils down the line - not the end of the world, in the circumstances. 

I urge the DfE and Standards and Testing Agency to think about this wisely. If you are going to insist on us reporting something, then choose your universe and make it clear to everyone.

But really, these aren't GCSEs and they're not A levels. They don't matter in the grand scheme of things for this year; bigger things are afoot for these children. 

You've already done the decent thing and called Sats off, so finish the job and cancel reporting of teacher assessment in key stages 1 and 2 on this planet - we're fine with it going ahead in the parallel universe.

Phil Cooper is the Head Teacher of Brough Community Primary School, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

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