Beyond the Exam Factory

No alternative to SATs? Think again.

We know that assessment in English schools is not designed to help children learn.
Its main purpose is to police schools and teachers, and it does untold damage in the process. It causes stress to children, depresses teachers, and provides little useful information to parents. It narrows the curriculum and penalises schools in the most disadvantaged areas.

This book was put together to open up real alternatives.

It draws on a wealth of experience and expertise over many decades, in England and internationally. It presents examples of a wide range of assessment methods which actually support students’ learning, rather than constraining it.

Primary schools are a particular focus, given the current crisis, but examples come from – and are relevant to – all age groups.

We hope it will lead to widespread discussion among teachers and heads, parents, school governors, politicians and the general public.

You can read this important new book by downloading it here: Beyond-the-exam-factory.pdf

For information on obtaining hard copies of the book please email (prices will vary depending on how many copies are ordered).

Mismeasurement of Learning

mismeasurement-title-pageThe Mismeasurement of Learning is a collection of short essays presenting the evidence and the arguments around curriculum and assessment in primary education. Brought together by Reclaiming Schools and the NUT, essay authors include John Coe, Pam Jarvis and Guy Roberts-Holmes and Alice Bradbury.

Assessment, standards and quality of learning in primary education

assessment-standards-and-quality-of-learning-in-primary-educationWynne Harlen’s report provides a critical review of the assessment system in England introduced between 2014 and 2016, in the light of evidence from research and practice in six other countries. It begins with some ground-clearing discussion of the terms used in relation to tests and other forms of pupil assessment. The next two sections concern the purposes of assessment, particularly formative and summative assessment, the uses of summative assessment data for accountability and national monitoring and the impact on curriculum content and pedagogy. Section four describes how assessment for these purposes and uses is conducted in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and France, concluding with an overview of themes running through these examples. The main points from this analysis are drawn together in the fifth section, providing a critical perspective on the system in England in light of alternative approaches in other systems. Finally some implications for policy and practice are identified.

Exam Factories? The impact of accountability measures on children and young people

exam-factories-the-impact-of-accountability-measures-on-children-and-young-peopleThis independent research was commissioned by the National Union of Teachers and conducted by Professor Merryn Hutchings.
This is a wide ranging research project that incorporates a survey of almost 8,000 teachers, an extensive literature review and quantitative research utilising case studies of both heads and teachers (not all of whom are NUT members) and children. Taken together, this research demonstrates the negative impact on children and young people in England of the current range of accountability measures in schools.

“They’re Children… Not Robots, Not Machines”: The Introduction of Reception Baseline Assessment

theyre-children-not-robots-not-machines-the-introduction-of-reception-baseline-assessmentThe National Union of Teachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers commissioned Dr Alice Bradbury and Dr Guy Roberts Holmes to conduct independent research into baseline assessment. The research showed that teachers and school leaders had serious doubts as to the accuracy of the assessment and its use in measuring progress. Baseline Assessment led to ‘stopping teaching’ and was not seen as helping teachers get to know pupils better.
This research report and the campaign surrounding it played an important role in the Government’s abandonment of Baseline Assessment and the report received the 2016 BERA SAGE Public Impact Award.

Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment

oecdOECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) (2013) Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment, OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education. This report compares the experience of 28 OECD countries, analyses the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and offers policy advice on using evaluation and assessment to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of education. It draws on a major study, the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes.

NSPCC – ‘Under Pressure’

nspccNSPCC ChildLine focused their annual report 2013-14 on children’s mental health. ‘Under Pressure’ highlighted the increase in school related stress, anxiety and other mental health problems, including in primary school aged children, that ChildLine were taking calls about.


CLPE Reading and Writing Scales

clpe-reading-and-writing-scalesThe CLPE Reading and Writing Scales describe the journey that children make in order to become literate. They help teachers to understand what progression looks like in reading and writing. CLPE have designed the Scales to illustrate how schools can provide an environment that supports children’s development as readers and writers and to suggest some next steps that teachers can plan in order to take children into the next phase of their development. The pedagogy underpinning the scales and the Next Steps is grounded in a coherent theory of children’s language and literacy development, exemplified by the research element of this document, a review of current relevant research

Getting EVERYONE Reading for Pleasure

Reading for pleasureGetting EVERYONE Reading for Pleasure contains a wealth of practical suggestions about how activities to promote reading for pleasure can be introduced back into the classroom or organised on a whole school basis.

Breaking the Mould

breaking-the-mouldChildren should have access to a broad and balanced education that helps them to achieve, whoever they are and whatever they want to do. The NUT worked for two years with five primary schools to consider how ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes could be challenged in nursery and primary classrooms and has produced three resources for primary schools on ‘breaking the mould’.