Education secretary Nicky Morgan records video hitting back at critics of new primary assessments

22nd February 2016 at 17:41
The film aims to speak directly to teachers

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has recorded a Twitter video in which she hits back at criticism of the controversial new primary assessment regime.

In the three-minute video, she says: “Yes, we’ve reformed the primary accountability system and, no, we’re not downplaying the scale of that change.” But she adds that "some claims being made by the media and unions" are wrong.

Call for dramatic change

The video comes after Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, criticised the number of tick boxes in the government’s guidance on how to assess writing.

There has also been criticism from the NAHT headteachers’ union, which called for a “dramatic change” in the government’s plans and warned that it would “act to protect pupils and schools”, if this was not done. The NUT teaching union has also called for Sats to be suspended after claiming the system had “come apart at the seams”.

In May, 600,000 Year 6 pupils will be taking the first Sats in maths, reading and spelling, grammar and punctuation under the new primary curriculum, which was introduced in September 2014.

Relaxed assessment deadlines

There will also be teacher assessments of writing, but the exemplification materials for these assessments were published at the beginning of this month – and teachers said that the new expected standard they looked far closer to the old level 5 than the old level 4b, the target that teachers had expected students would have to reach.

In response to the NAHT ultimatum, education minister Nick Gibb last week relaxed the deadlines for the submission of teacher assessments, a move that would give Year 6 teachers an extra six weeks.

But the NAHT had also called for the floor standards to be suspended for one year.

And in today’s video, Ms Morgan makes it clear that the floor standards will remain in place. She said: “In December, a new floor standard and new attainment and progress measures will be published in the performance tables. We have already said that schools will be above the floor standard if 65 per cent of more of their pupils meet the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths or if the school’s progress scores are sufficient.”

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