Pupil assessments system 'a failure': Curriculum overhaul sought by head teachers

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Indy Politics
PUPILS' PROGRESS should be measured by a mixture of teacher assessment and tests, the secondary heads' union says in its submission to the government review of the national curriculum.

The Secondary Heads Association, probably the only teaching union respected by ministers, proposes an overhaul of the curriculum structure. The heads have told Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of the curriculum and testing authorities, that this should happen before any more subjects are reviewed separately.

The association wants the Government to abandon the 10 levels of assessment, reduce the content of what must be taught, and limit the compulsory curriculum for younger children to the core subjects of English, maths and science.

The present system, heads say, 'attempts to make a single test do too much'. As a result, 'it fails at all levels, and is fundamentally flawed and discredited'. Instead, progress should be measured and reported partly through records of achievement and 'other usual reports to parents'. Internal teacher assessment should be monitored by the new national inspection system and national measurement which combines teacher assessment with tests. In primary schools, the heads say, only English, maths and science should be tested externally.

League tables that compare school performances should be scrapped, because each school's results are published anyway, and schools are already subject to other forms of accountability. National standards should be monitored by periodically testing samples of pupils.

The heads want the curriculum to be carried through to 19, with pupils aged 14-16 studying short courses in modules which could be grouped together to make up a GCSE.

The curriculum for five- to seven-year-olds would concentrate on the basics. At all stages up to 14, 'overcrowded' programmes of study would be reduced to enable subjects to be taught in greater depth.