Catastrophe at key stage 3
What your article does not address is the damaging effect that inaccurate marking has on schools. The main victims, of course, are the pupils, many of whom work very hard in preparation for the tests. English staff, too, in my department dread the arrival in July of the results, knowing that, in all likelihood, we face a sustained public relations campaign explaining to pupils, parents, managers and governors that once again the scripts have been wrongly marked and that if we can all be patient we should get the correct results by October. Meanwhile, days are spent putting together the appeal, and target-setting for GCSE goes on hold until we have correct data to work with.
And what of the KS3 strategy? Up and down the country, LEA English advisers are urging schools to raise performance from level 3 at KS2 to level 5 at KS3; classrooms are plastered with displays headed "In order to get a Level 5 I need to..."; teachers are running booster classes and other literacy intervention programmes. If we cannot rely on progress being accurately assessed, who can blame teachers who question the point of it all?
Head of English, Katherine Lady Berkeley's school