The ACP is committed to the emotional wellbeing of children and we advocate for learning environments where children can develop healthy minds through exploratory play, supported by consistent relationships with others. The current focus on testing emphasises scores and targets over the psychological wellbeing of children and teachers. We have grave concerns about the impact of this on children’s minds and their capacity to relate to others. We therefore very much support the call for a fundamental re-think on primary assessment.
Association of Educational Psychologists
The British Educational Research Association (BERA) is concerned that little robust research evidence has been cited in support of recent changes to primary assessment in England. In particular
- There has been little attempt to systematically monitor whether coupling high-stakes accountability to primary assessment data impacts positively or adversely on the quality of teaching and learning and, indeed, children’s well-being.
- Too little attention has been paid to whether the tests really measure what they claim to measure (construct validity). Many tests have not been standardised to take children’s age into account, even though all the evidence shows that this is a significant factor in how well young children do. As a result the scores may well be misleading.
- The difficulties in settling on statistical models that can adequately address the variation in pupils’ learning, or take into account the social factors external to the school that shape this, have been consistently underestimated or ignored. Little has been done to draw the limitations of the data to public notice.
- In seeking to hold schools to account for pupil progress, statistical models intended to calculate the likelihood of getting to destination y from starting position x are being treated as certain predictors In many cases this means the wrong conclusions are being drawn about children’s potential as learners and the quality of teaching and learning in the school.
Better Without Baseline is an alliance of early years organisations and teaching unions that came together in 2015 to oppose the introduction of Baseline Assessment. Despite almost universal expert opposition to the idea, and against the recommendations of parliamentary consultation, the government continued to support the idea and introduced the policy in September 2015. Better Without Baseline believes that this was both a dangerous and undemocratic situation and that it betrayed a woeful lack of governmental concern about the best interests of the child. The government U-turned and withdrew Baseline Assessment as an accountability measure in September 2016, however, Better Without Baseline remains active to ensure that the foundation stage of education remains better without baseline.
Evidence assembled by the Cambridge Primary Review strongly criticised the trajectory of national assessment policy under recent governments, its damaging impact on young children’s wellbeing and the quality of their education, and the questionable claims by which its imposition on schools has been justified. Cambridge Primary Review Trust has maintained the momentum by making intelligent assessment reform one of its priorities. The Trust argues for ‘approaches to assessment that enhance learning as well as test it, that support rather than distort the curriculum, and that pursue standards and quality in all areas of learning, not just the core subjects.’ Current assessment policy continues to do the opposite.
Keeping Early Years Unique is a movement passionate about the vital role of all-consuming play in promoting holistic, child centred learning. In two short years it has grown to over 25,000 members from across the world, all of whom stand together to fight for what is every child’s basic right: an education that respects and nurtures children instead of forcing them to learn in ways which damage them. The group’s members includes voices from across the world of early education including leading Early Years voices, headteachers, leaders, child minders, teachers, nursery staff, advisors, home schooling parents and anyone committed to putting the child firmly back where they belong, at the heart of our early education system. Keeping Early Years Unique’ s campaign to extend the principles of best Early Years practice to age 7, now has over 17.3k supporters. “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”(Ryunosuke Saturo)…and the waves are growing by the day!
Let Our Kids Be Kids
We represent tens of thousands of parents who have joined forces to shout a resounding ‘NO to SAT TESTING’ via our active Facebook page. In 2016 Let our Kids be Kids supporters gathered over 50,000 signatures in just 3 weeks asking for a suspension of the current primary assessment system. Parents were so concerned they kept their children off school as part of the #KidsStrike3rdMay protest. As damaging psychologically as the testing may be, a major concern for parents is the narrowing of the 2014 curriculum in order to pressure schools into teaching to the test – this causes far more wide-ranging damage, in terms of switching children off learning, lowering self-esteem, and limiting creative thinking, individuality and the value of experimental learning. We want our kids to be kids… not robots in an exam factory testing machine!
The National Association for Primary Education with a membership of parents/carers and teachers is deeply concerned that the current national assessment of children’s progress is flawed to the point of gross inefficiency. Furthermore, there are damaging effects upon children’s wellbeing and learning. Assessment which does not trust the judgement of the teachers who know the children well and which purports to have faith in snapshot tests of just two aspects of learning gives rise to inaccurate measures of progress which are an unhelpful guide to parenting and teaching and to the quality of education provided by primary schools. The association wishes to work with government to implement much needed reform, we can do so much better for the children.
The National Union of Teachers believes that teachers need more time to teach and to engage children in learning and education, and need to spend less time preparing, administering, marking and remarking government prescribed tests and assessments. Research has shown the devastating impact that the assessment and accountability regime operating in schools is having on children and young people. Testing of children is being introduced to ever younger children and the stress and pressure that this brings is filtering down to even the youngest children at school. It is time for a change. All our children deserve better.
Rescue Our Schools believes ending the test-driven primary curriculum is vital for English schools to provide the balanced education our children need. The families and professionals who support us see creative subjects and approaches being squeezed out and growing child mental health issues. Education should inspire, not generate fear of failure. Judgement by SATS lacks rigour: schooling is more complicated than that. Testing children in order to manufacture school league tables harms education: we need collaboration, not competition. We want an independent review of alternatives to SATS, to find accountability measures which work for children, teachers and schools. We need politics out of the classroom and experts in.
The Save Childhood Movement is committed to ensuring that the best interests of the child lies at the heart of educational policymaking. The current focus on testing and accountability clearly prioritises the needs of the system over the needs of children and teachers and we have grave concerns about the impact of this on children’s wellbeing – and in particular their love of learning. We therefore very much support the call for a fundamental re-think on primary assessment.
CHILDREN ARE CURIOUS, CREATIVE, PLAYFUL EXPLORERS: the challenge is to make education fit for them. Our vision is for nurseries/schools where children can be eager learners and explorers. Since 1997 we have encouraged an enquiry-based approach to early childhood education through example, professional development, publications and exhibitions. Our research examples show enthused, engaged, deep-thinking children and their thoughtful, committed educators.
Politics has moved from supporting holistic education (1930’s – 60’s) to opposing it with industrial’ models of education. It values assessment over learning. The assessment methods may provide statistics which are useful to parliament, but they cement an experience of education which is damaging for children betraying the potential of our generation.
We do not want to oppose politicians: rather we want them to listen, and to support the creation of an education that is fit for all children.
Slow Education opposes the use of high-stakes testing in primary education. Its impact on children and teachers is creating an unhealthy environment both in the home and in the classroom. Testing has its place in the process of education, but it should be within broader contexts of assessment and never become the only thing that matters.
The Primary Charter is an attempt to generate a wider debate across society about what sort of schools we want for our children.
The Primary Charter believes that all children have the right to a broad and balanced curriculum that allows them to develop their talents in all areas. Data collection and monitoring should be focused around the need to provide support discreetly and respectfully, to pupils, teachers and schools, and particularly to assist disadvantaged young people and others who may be underachieving.
Plans for baseline assessment of children starting school have been put on hold following a misjudged scheme trialled last year. It is imperative now to take an informed look at what kind of assessment will really serve children best from the early years onward.
Assessment of any kind must ultimately improve learning for children. UKLA believes that the current testing arrangements do not fulfil this prime purpose, indeed they undermine it because the tests give a false and narrow view of standards in reading and writing and what it means to be literate in the 21st Century, including the creative, collaborative and critical uses of digital media within literacy provision. UKLA strongly supports the campaign for a fundamental review.
5x5x5=creativity is an arts-based action research organisation with charitable status that supports children and young people in their exploration and expression of ideas, helping them develop creative skills for life. 5x5x5=creativity helps improve children and young people’s life chances by developing their confidence in themselves as creative learners and thinkers whilst inspiring higher levels of motivation and engagement in their learning. Since 2000, 5x5x5 has worked with over 250 settings across 10 Local Authorities. 5x5x5=creativity is now a nationally recognised and highly regarded long-term research project of vitality and innovation, influencing practice across the South West and beyond. 5x5x5=creativity projects include Forest of Imagination and Schools Without Walls.