Memorandum submitted by Portway Infant School, Andover, Hampshire

 

General issues

As an infant school there is a huge burden of marking and cross moderating put upon specific teachers at key stage 1, whereas teachers at key stage 2 have the tests marked externally

The systems of assessment within the school are robust and truthful, the end of key stage tests tell us nothing we don't already know about our children.

The focus on national testing of young children some of whom are not yet seven, reduces the amount of creativity in the curriculum as time is inevitably taken up with the administration and marking of the tests.

 

Current Situation

The effectiveness of the current tests is questionable, as long as in-house assessment procedures are strong there is no need to then assess children by a series of external test. They inevitably lead to stress on the children, despite the very professional attitude of teachers to make the tests as 'low key' as possible.

The results from the tests merely reflect the level the children have already received, which has been assessed through thorough and rigorous teacher assessment.

The tests do not in any way involve the children in assessing their own learning, they are a summative form of assessment. They may show that certain cohorts need reinforcement in a particular area of the curriculum, this insight would occur after analysis of the papers. The paper analysis however is quite long-winded and laborious.

At key stage one, the time taken to administer and mark tests is a period of weeks. If children were taught 'normally' during this time and not tested their levels of attainment would probably increase, therefore testing does not increase levels of attainment.

There is considerable anecdotal evidence that especially in Key Stage 2 there are high levels of teaching to the test to such an extent that children in year six are constantly revising from Christmas if not earlier. Surely this is detrimental to those children who have already reached level four and other than teaching children to pass tests is there any value in this type of learning?

The future

Undoubtedly the system needs reform. If testing merely reflects what teachers already know about children, why do we do it? Cross moderation of children's work between schools and across LEAs provides excellent professional discussion about learning, promotes understanding of assessment and is good professional development for teachers. Surely this would make more sense!

 May 2007