This year it will be the 25th anniversary of the Education Reform Act, which brought in the national curriculum. Sadly, what was intended to be a "broad and balanced entitlement curriculum" providing a progressive structure and opportunities for all pupils to develop as learners has degenerated into a means for ranking pupils and schools. Both the main political parties are equally to blame. The Thatcher administration quickly reduced teacher-based assessment to a subsidiary role, powerless against the publicity accorded to Sats levels. Tony Blair, sensing political capital, further disempowered teachers by introducing a "this is how, what and when you will teach" set of strategies designed to "ramp up" test scores in the so-called "basics".
Further tinkering is ensuing under education secretary Michael Gove, all with the same focus - improving scores in tests. My wish for 2013 is that those involved in policy decisions affecting the learning opportunities, progress and ultimately life chances of pupils address the issue of deregulation: deregulating teachers from delivering test-focused lessons and deregulating pupils from being passive recipients, required to deliver acceptable prescribed outcomes for measurement purposes.
Professor Bill Boyle, Chair of educational assessment, University of Manchester.