Ruling needed on Sats test rulers, teachers say

Teachers are calling for clearer rules on the use of rulers, saying the government has issued conflicting advice on whether seven-year-olds can use them in the key stage 1 arithmetic test.

The sample test, published in June 2015, says that pupils are not allowed to use rulers in the 2016 paper.

And in December 2015, the assessment and reporting arrangements said that schools “should use the sample materials” to prepare for the tests.

But January 2016, the status of rulers was thrown into confusion: During the key stage 1 assessment arrangements webinar , Catharine Parkes, of the Standards and Testing Agency, said that a ruler was the only mathematical equipment children were allowed to use during the test.

And the test administration guidance, published last week, also said that pupils will need a ruler for the arithmetic test.

A number of teachers on the Twitter micro-blogging site have said the varying advice is creating confusion.

Michael Tidd, deputy head of Edgewood primary, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, told TES: “It has been frustrating throughout the last year to be constantly waiting for updates and then finding new information that contradicts the old. Recently we were told by ministers that it was “disingenuous” to suggest that it was because the department didn’t know what it was doing.

“Yet here we are again, with contradictory information being published such that teachers are left trying to guess what is and isn’t permitted. The department needs to remember that teachers can find themselves in stiff trouble if they make errors on such matters, yet confusion abounds.

“Combined with the on-going delays to reading exemplification, the changes to writing moderation, the late changes to dates, the inaccuracies of the Assessment and Reporting Arrangements statutory guidance, it leaves teachers confused and frustrated and children poorly served. The department should be embarrassed and apologetic.”

It comes after the rules on marking exclamation marks in the grammar, punctuation and spelling test for 7-year-olds were interpreted as ministers wanting to restrict their use – something Nick Gibb, schools minister said had been misunderstood.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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