Exclusive: New DfE primary assessment proposals expected after headteachers’ one-week ultimatum

Primary headteachers have issued the government with a one-week ultimatum to make a “dramatic change” to their plans for primary assessment last Thursday, it has emerged.

Now TES understands that the NAHT heads’ union is expecting proposals to address its members’ concerns from the Department for Education by the end of tomorrow.

The union had said that ministers must make major changes to plans for writing assessments for 11-year-olds within a week. If they failed to do so, it said, heads would “act to protect pupils and schools.”

The ‘travesty’ of new standards

The concerns emerged after the government published materials for key stage 2 writing assessments last week. Unions believe that they will raise the bar for pupils’ attainment and cause a major increase in teachers’ workload. The NUT teaching union has called for this years Sats tests to be suspended in the wake of the new requirements.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, told TES that he had not yet seen final details of the department’s response, so could not say whether it would be sufficient to address members’ concerns.

Details of the association’s ultimatum were set out in an email to NAHT members, seen by TES. It said it would be a “travesty” to hold schools to account based on the new standards set out in detail last week.

‘We will act to protect pupils’

“I have given the government one week from today to provide a response to this,” Mr Hobby’s email said. “If we do not receive an adequate one – and by that I mean a dramatic change in their plans – then we will act this year to protect pupils and schools.”

It said the government should “just admit they have no idea what the data will look like or mean”.

The email said the new expected standard was higher than expected because it was “closer to a 5c than a 4b”. Materials to help schools implement the new standards were “unusable in the short time we have remaining to us,” it said.

An angry reaction

The new materials provoked an angry reaction among heads. The NUT claimed that the government’s new system for primary assessment had “come apart at the seams”.

The classroom union believes that the detail in the exemplifications of the required standards, and the number of separate pieces of evidence required for each individual assessment, has made it “impossible for teachers to deliver in the few months between February and June”.

The NAHT has not yet decided whether to back the NUT’s stance.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We have had a number of constructive conversations with the NAHT and provided a response to their concerns.”


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