London-centric Assessment for Learning

I was not surprised to read an article on "Why Assessment for Learning is not a passing fad" (TESpro, 16 September) in which all the references to research were from London institutions. It may surprise the writer (and TES) to know that the original research centre for formative assessmentassessment for learning, the Centre for Formative Assessment Studies (CFAS), founded 23 years ago in Manchester University, is still alive, busy and active in classroom support and national and international policy intervention.

One of the ironies of the test-data debate in England, and the reduction in pedagogy accordingly, is that in 1989 CFAS was funded by the government to develop trial assessment materials (the prototype of Sats for seven-year-olds), which would have empowered teachers to continually assess children's progress when they felt each child was ready for (formative) assessment and to plan to support next steps in learning from the information gained "in real time". This experiment, sadly, did not meet the normative requirements of the government of the time, which favoured herding children into a hall on a given day and branding them en masse - hence Sats and league tables were born.

Professor Bill Boyle, Director, CFAS, school of education, Manchester University.

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