Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about SATs, phonics and formal tests in primary schools in 2020/21.
Firstly, I pay tribute to the teachers, headteachers, school staff and others for making it possible for our children and young people to return to their education.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, lost learning has been seriously impacting the education, health and wellbeing of children and young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I believe that keeping pupils safely in schools is hugely important for their education.
The Government has recently announced that for primary assessments, key stage 1 tests in English reading and mathematics, and the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests at key stage 1 and 2 will be removed for one year. In addition, it says schools can take a “flexible approach” to the administration of the key stage 2 tests and phonics screening check, by extending the original timetable by a week, until 26 May and 25 June, respectively. The introduction of a multiplication tables check will be postponed for a further year, but schools may use it if they want to.
The Government also confirmed that although primary performance data will not be published, teacher assessment in English reading, writing and mathematics at key stage 1, and all other assessments at key stage 2, will remain.
While I welcome some of the Government’s measures, such as the announcement that performance tables will be suspended and that routine Ofsted inspections will not resume in January, there still exists fundamental inequities between students who have suffered different levels of disruption to their learning. I believe this delay in announcing measures has limited the Government’s options. Had it acted sooner, it could have done more to make the system fairer. Going forward, the absolute priority this year should be to ensure children’s learning is not disrupted unduly by the pandemic.
I also believe the Government must urgently provide dedicated and desperate teachers, heads, and support staff with further information on what it can do to support them and keep children learning.