Primary assessment inquiry launched

23 September 2016

The Education Committee launches an inquiry into primary assessment. This inquiry scrutinises reforms to primary assessment and their impact on teaching and learning in primary schools. It also covers the wider effects of assessment on primary schools, as well as possible next steps for Government policy.

Written submissions

The Education Committee invites written submissions addressing the following topics:

  • The purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this
  • The advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school
  • How the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning
  • Logistics and delivery of the SATs
  • Training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems
  • Next steps following the most recent reforms to primary assessment

Submit your views through the Primary assessment inquiry page.

Deadline for written submissions is Friday 28 October 2016.

The public evidence sessions for this inquiry are likely to begin in November.

Inquiry focus and background

The inquiry is likely to look at debates over the benefits and drawbacks of testing at primary school, as well as examining issues such as whether SATs focus too heavily on English and Maths, leading to schools neglecting other areas of the curriculum like science and modern languages. Questions over the implementation of the new assessment system also feature in this inquiry.

National curriculum assessments (better knows as SATs) have been subject to several changes since they were introduced in 1991. This year, new tests were introduced in key stage 1 and 2 to reflect the more rigorous national curriculum, first taught in September 2014. The reforms include new content and the removal of national curriculum levels.

The issue of primary assessment was raised through the Education Committee's ongoing inquiry into the purpose and quality of education in England.

Professor Jo-Anne Baird to advise the Education Committee

Professor Jo-Anne Baird from the University of Oxford, is the Education Committee's new Standing Advisor on Education.

Professor Baird said:

"The primary assessments are very important to pupils, parents and teachers. Whilst there were problems last year with the security of a test and the content of the grammar assessments, as the boycotts showed, there are broader questions about the suitability of the primary assessments. They have had little evaluation since their introduction. The experts who were involved in devising this national curriculum - Tim Oates, Mary James, Andrews Pollard and Dylan Wiliam - were unable to agree on the final content. For these reasons, the Select Committee's Inquiry is both necessary and timely."

Chair's comment

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

"This summer saw the introduction of arguably the biggest reforms in primary assessment since external assessment was introduced 25 years ago. In this inquiry we want to look at the impact of the new national curriculum assessment (SATs) and how the current system affects teaching and learning. News of SATs boycotts in certain parts of the country and data showing almost half of pupils in England failed to meet the new tough standards in reading, writing and maths point to unresolved issues in the way we prepare our children for secondary school and help them reach their potential. As a Committee we will want to examine how children are assessed, how well the SATs are being delivered, and what steps the Government should take in the future to make sure our education system delivers for all children."

Further information

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