Press release: Special needs expert to head new assessment review

The executive headteacher of a leading special needs school will oversee a new review into how to assess accurately pupils with lower attainment, Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced today (13 July 2015).

There are currently more than half a million pupils at both key stage 1 and 2 whose ability falls below the standard required to take national curriculum tests. The review will consider how best to assess the attainment and progress of this group of pupils so that parents know how their children are doing and schools can be given appropriate credit for the work they do to support their pupils.

Diane Rochford, Executive Headteacher at the ‘outstanding’ rated John F. Kennedy School in east London, will work with a group of experts with backgrounds in assessment and working with SEND and disadvantaged children. They will consult widely with heads and teachers to find a solution for a comprehensive statutory assessment for these pupils.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Parents of pupils of all abilities have the right to know how their children are progressing at school. My concern is that too many pupils have been at risk of falling into a gap created by a lack of comprehensive assessment for pupils with lower levels of attainment.

This review will help establish accurate information which they can use to hold their school to account. Crucially, it will also give credit to hard-working teachers who rightly have high expectations for all their pupils.

I am extremely pleased the review will be led by Diane Rochford who is a well-respected expert in this field.

Diane Rochford said:

This review provides a welcome opportunity to ensure pupils of all abilities are included in new arrangements for statutory assessment and benefit from assessment without levels.

Parents of pupils who, for a wide range of reasons, make attainment and progress at a slower rate, including those with special educational needs, deserve to have accurate information about how their children are doing at school.

An appropriate means of statutory assessment will also ensure that heads and teachers are recognised for the work they do with this important group of learners.

Pupils who do not sit national curriculum tests include many with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The review will publish a final report by December 2015. Further information on the membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published on GOV.UK by September.

Notes to editors

  1. Diane Rochford is the Executive Headteacher of a 4 to 19 special needs school within the Learning and Harmony Multi Academy Trust. She has previously worked within local authority provision and has extensive experience of a range of learners with SEN in profound and medical learning difficulty (PMLD), autistic spectrum condition (ASC) and severe learning difficulty (SLD) within complex needs.

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