‘It’s a ridiculous system’
An anonymous lead moderator from the south of England: “I feel confident that our team of moderators are going to be accurate. However, I don’t put any faith in the system that has been created.
“I feel we’ll do a good job of the system we’ve been given, but it’s a ridiculous system. We’ll play the game, we’ll be accurate, thorough and professional, but it is not a way of assessing writing that holds any value for the child and teachers.
“A lot of the training was based on the need to show a ‘managed shift in formality’ to get greater depth in writing [the highest standard available]. It is quite a difficult thing to do. You have to decide whether you think a child who has made a shift in their writing has made a conscious decision rather than, when writing a report about dinosaurs, has gone a bit chatty by mistake. It is a really difficult thing to put in a test with a single outcome of pass or fail.
“We are sending children up to secondary school saying they have just met the standard but they are incredible writers and are technically very accurate. They have great voice, a range of vocabulary and sentence structure, but they don’t show a ‘managed shift in formality’.
“I think it is just a bit crude. I don’t think it helps. In the old system they would have got a level 6, but we’re now saying they are [the equivalent to] level 4.”
‘This is a farce’
An anonymous moderator and assistant headteacher from the north of England: “In my opinion, writing moderation since the abolition of levels has been a farce. Last year, it was very unreliable. Moderation teams were reluctant to challenge schools, as we had been warned off by unions.
“This year, from professional conversations, many people have failed the moderator test. These people have years of experience in key stage 2. I myself have been a local authority moderator for five years and a lead moderator for three. I got two out of three on the test, as did many others I know of.
“My question to the DfE would be: if existing moderators are not deemed to be proficient enough at levelling writing, with our years of experience and training, what chance have less experienced, less trained teachers got of being accurate?
“If 100 per cent of teachers cannot level accurately, the system is flawed and unreliable.
“With league rankings, pay progression and Ofsted judgements based around these high-stakes assessments, the moderation system surely needs addressing immediately in order to produce a much more efficient, streamlined and reliable solution.”