The More Than a Score Alternative for Primary Assessment

Assessment – what we stand for. A Summary

Assessment: the alternative

The Government remains committed to the present system, even though its flaws are widely recognised: it narrows the curriculum, demotivates learners, greatly adds to teacher workload, and in some cases has serious effects on pupils’ mental health.

Drawing from international experience and research findings, More Than a Score has produced its alternative – an alternative that shows how assessment can support learning, and underpin a high quality system of primary education, without the negative effects of present arrangements.

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT:

“Our current system of primary assessment is in urgent need of reform. In summer 2016 nearly half the 11 year olds in the country were told they weren’t ready for secondary school. That wasn’t true – but it was deeply damaging. It’s a peculiarity of the English system that, despite the number of tests children face, none of them test how well the Government is doing at supporting learning. Testing random samples of pupils – random so the children won’t be crammed – will give a much truer picture of our education system.”

Madeleine Holt, Rescue Our Schools:

“It is easy to think that all countries put young children through high-stakes testing: they don’t. Parents need to know that England stands out for its punitive testing regime. Nor do the most successful education systems link scores with judging schools. More than a Score’s assessment alternatives rightly break the link between scores and accountability.”

David Reedy, United Kingdom Literacy Association:

“UKLA believes that the prime purpose of assessment should be to improve children’s learning. There is considerable evidence that the tests in Y2 and Y6 give a narrow and distorting view of progress in reading and writing and in what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. The changes advocated by More Than A Score would result in a more holistic approach to assessment across the curriculum, and provide a more valid assessment of pupils’ progress and achievement. UKLA strongly supports this campaign for a fundamental review of current primary school assessment in England and the UK.”

Alison Roy, Association of Child Psychotherapists:

“We want to see assessment which involves parents and teachers working and thinking together about how to achieve the best possible outcomes – an assessment which supports a broad curriculum, enabling children to find out what they are, or can be good at and allowing every child to gain a sense of achievement.”

“Experience, backed up by research, indicates that children who are happy and emotionally secure will be more resilient and much more likely to succeed academically. They will also be much less likely to exhibit challenging and antisocial behaviours, or drop out of the school system completely.”

“As child mental health specialists, we are supporting the MTAS campaign and we are joining with the many parents, teachers, researchers and specialists who are calling for this change.”

Nancy Stewart, TACTYC, Association for Professional Development in Early Years:

“Teachers’ constant assessment – noticing what children understand and can do as they observe and interact – is crucial to providing the best support for learning.  This is quite different from external imposed testing which measures a narrow range of items out of meaningful contexts.  Good gardeners provide young plants with attentive care and the best conditions for growth; they do not keep pulling them up to measure their roots.”



6 thoughts on “The More Than a Score Alternative for Primary Assessment

  1. Time to reflect : listen and change for the future. Trust professionally trained teachers to do their job. Let’s remember to value the whole child and give them the tools for their success. Self belief and confidence and most importantly let’s inject fun and creativity back into the curriculum. Britain after all excels in the arts.


  2. As an early years teacher and lead, I wholeheartedly agree that we are hot housing our children with a narrow curriculum, thereby ‘teaching to test’. As soon as children move into Y1 there is a focus on getting the children ‘ready’ for their SATs in Y2. In Y2 the focus is on practice papers. Recently, I have covered Y2 classes and the curriculum consisted of non-stop practice papers. No fun for the children and absolutely zero fun for me who can see the damage it does to the less able/younger children in the cohort. The time used on practice papers could be used to actually teach children!!! The children are effectively switched off from learning. They’ve gone from an early years curriculum that promotes independent learning and investigation to a severe vessel filling approach in the space of 18 months.


  3. I totally agree.
    The stress on staff is also unacceptable.
    as a manager in a failing, unsupportive LEA, the management team are under constant pressure with endless meeting. Many heads in the town have resigned or gone off long term sick. The whole system is like bullying in the workplace.
    At the bottom of the heap are the children who are just a number.
    It’s the government’s total distrust of the teaching profession that is the reason behind all this


  4. As a teacher with 23 years experience I am hugely concerned about the pressure of SATs on children. I addition the fact that age standardised scores are NEVER used shows a complete lack of understanding by the powers that be.


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