Ed Dorrell is right that Michael Gove's disconnection between teaching freedom and authoritarian examinations is "problematic". One problem is that national curriculum levels are due to disappear from September 2014, to be replaced by grades for how far pupils are "ready to progress" to the next key stage or sub-key stage. As Gove has said, grades are required "so that we can recognise and reward the highest achievers as well as identifying those who are falling below national expectations".
Other than in Year 6, "readiness to progress" will be teacher-assessed according to the new national curriculum. But academies are not required to follow the curriculum. Does this mean that academies will not be required to grade their pupils at the end of each key stage and sub-key stage, except by the statutory test at the end of Year 6? If so, and if most schools become academies as intended, the Department for Education and Ofsted will be unable to "identify those who are falling behind" in most of the nation's schools between Year 1 and the Year 6 test and between Year 7 and GCSE.
This cannot be intended and I think we shall find that, by September 2014, academies will be required to assess "readiness to progress" in relation to the new national curriculum at least in English, maths and science, and therefore to teach the national curriculum in those subjects.
Laurie Smith, Research associate, King's College London.