A consistent inconsistency

With thanks to my headteacher for inadvertently providing the blog title.

With Justine Greening’s announcement yesterday we discovered that the DfE has definitely understood that all is not rosy in the primary assessment garden. And yet, we find ourselves looking at two more years of the broken system before anything changes. My Twitter timeline today has been filled with people outraged at the fact that the “big announcement” turned out to be “no change”.

I understand the rage entirely. And I certainly don’t think I’ve been shy about criticising the department’s chaotic organisation of the test and errors made. But I’m also not ready to throw my toys out of the pram just yet. This might just be the first evidence that the department is really listening. Yes, perhaps too little too late. Yes, it would have been nice for it to have been accompanied by an acknowledgement that the problems were caused by the pace of change enforced by ministers. But maybe they’re learning that lesson?

For a start, there are many teachers nationally who are just glad of the consistency. As my headteacher said earlier today, it leaves us with a consistent inconsistency. But nevertheless, there will be many teachers who are relieved to see that the system is going to be familiar for the next couple of years.

It’s a desire I can understand, but just can’t go along with. There are too many problems with the current system – mostly those surrounding the Teacher Assessment frameworks and moderation. But I will hang fire, because there is the prospect of change on the horizon.

It’s tempting to see it as meaningless consultation, but until we see the detail I don’t want to rule anything out. I hope that the department is listening to advice, and is open to recommendations – including those which the NAHT Assessment Reform Group of which I am a member is drawing together over this term.

If the DfE listens to the profession, and in the spring consults on a meaningful reform that brings about sensible assessment and accountability processes, then we may eventually come to see yesterday’s announcement as the least bad of the available options.

Of course, if they mess it up again, I’ll be on their case.

4 thoughts on “A consistent inconsistency

  1. claris2012 20 October 2016 at 10:38 pm Reply

    It might be tempting to think it’s better if they make no change for a couple of years, since teachers have been through it all now and so will be better prepared this year. But this misses the point. It’s not about the extra workload that the constant changes in assessment caused them last year, although that was extremely frustrating and stressful. It is more about the fact that the whole primary assessment system is wrong. The ‘secure fit’ in the writing TA framework is wrong, and the difficulty of the reading test is wrong and the catch-you-out type of questions in the maths test are wrong and teaching children and testing them on secondary school level grammatical terminology is wrong. So another two years of it is just WRONG.

  2. A consistent inconsistency – e4eng 20 October 2016 at 10:46 pm Reply

    […] Source: A consistent inconsistency […]

  3. Tom Burkard 21 October 2016 at 8:46 am Reply

    If ministers had any real savvy, they’d introduce changes on a voluntary basis in schools agreeing to participate in pilots and involve working teachers at every stage of the process. Any government that pledged not to impose changes without the consent of teachers (and not their so-called representatives) would be virtually guaranteed of their votes at the following general election.

  4. Tom Bishop 21 October 2016 at 10:01 am Reply

    From Greening’s speech:

    ‘…the key stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test will remain non-statutory for schools this year, with tests available for teachers to use if they choose.’

    The SPAG test is non-statutory for schools. A deadly serious question: Why on earth would any school do it?

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