Today the Cambridge Primary Review Trust has published its formal consultation response to the Performance Descriptors in English, Maths and Science at KS1 and KS2. It is much more detailed than mine, and has gone into the wording of the descriptors with more of a forensic attitude, which I am pleased about, as I did not have the time for such an approach. However, I agree substantially with its viewpoint, and hope that it will provide an effective counterblast to those at the DfE who put the thing together in the first place. In addition, the CPRT have just published a research review by Professor Wynne Harlen entitled Assessment, Standards and Quality of Learning in Primary Education, which provides a strong argument for a type of assessment that need not drive the teaching quality. In part he argues that assessment has always defined the content of what is taught, and this denigrates the quality of the curriculum, and, often, seriously narrows it for children, who are left knowing stuff they need for a test, and little else. This is not a new argument, but the mismatch that the CPRT consultation response notices between the performance descriptors and the curriculum means that schools will gravitate to teaching what is defined in the performance descriptors rather than in the curriculum. The closer the match, and the better defined the assessment task, the less likely is this to happen, though insecure schools will always do this, no matter how much they are told not to.
It would be interesting to see other responses. The Pearson one is here, and the ADCS (Association of Directors of Children’s Services) is here, though inadequate. Various other ones are around. Nothing immediately visible on the OFSTED website or on the NAHT, though I daresay they’ll be along.