Almost two-thirds of headteachers believe the abolition of national curriculum levels will have a negative impact on monitoring student progress, a survey shows. Just 7 per cent believe that removing levels will have a positive impact, while academy headteachers are slightly more optimistic, with just over one in 10 backing the move, the study reveals. The figures come from a poll of nearly 900 headteachers undertaken by The Key, an independent support group for school leaders, and they reveal the full extent of anxiety felt by headteachers over the government’s decision to scrap levels. The Department for Education announced last year that the levels presently used to grade students will be phased out, describing them as complicated for parents to understand. Furthermore, schools will be able to introduce their own assessment systems, which the DfE said should “support pupil attainment and progression”. But Will Millard, senior curriculum researcher at The Key, said that removing levels would have “far-reaching consequences”. “The ‘language’ of levels is widely understood not only by school leaders and teachers but also by pupils, so it is unsurprising that many are finding this move away from the current system daunting,” Mr Millard said. “In addition, levels give an indication of a school’s performance and provide data relied upon by the inspectorate, so how will local assessment systems tally with the imperatives of accountability and school inspection?” The NAHT headteachers’ union warned that the decision by the DfE would lead to a more “fragmented” assessment system. “There are many headteachers who were disturbed by the announcement of the end of levels,” Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said. “And it was not because of a love for levels but because the idea of 20,000 schools reinventing their methods of assessment just doesn’t fill anyone with enthusiasm. We need a shared approach to assessment in schools.”
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