A #CoeCam audience member from the National Association of Head Teachers describes how taking the politics out of education could improve accountability. Watch Professor Coe's lecture here.
“Start by thinking about what matters, then think about how that can be captured.” These were the words that stood out most strongly in an absorbing couple of hours in the company of assessment guru Professor Rob Coe. It’s a message that echoes the views of many school leaders up and down the country.
"Many school leaders view assessment with suspicion.
Many school leaders view assessment with suspicion. Not because they fear scrutiny but because, like Professor Coe, they would say that the mandarins who tell them what to assess have the wrong view about what matters. It’s one thing to be held accountable, it’s quite another to be held accountable by data that also doesn’t help you to do your job any better.
"The trouble with assessment is its relationship with accountability.
The trouble with assessment is its relationship with accountability, which politicians can’t resist meddling in, Professor Coe says. He refers to “the levers they can reach”, pulled not because they are the most effective means, just the most easy to grasp and to yank. Who doesn’t love a good analogy?
Here’s another: In education, assessment is to politicians as wet paint is to children. Try as they might, their little fingers will end up poking it. Assessment is covered in political fingerprints. But educators have to fight hard to get their hands anywhere near it.
"Here's an example of where school leaders have seized the initiative.
NAHT believes that a school-led system is the right pathway to school improvement. But we would say that, wouldn’t we? The fact is though, unless the politics is taken out of assessment, we’ll only ever get a muddled and changeable system. That is why we argue for an Office of Education Responsibility – to take some of the politics out of education. Professor Coe’s talk, and the questions he fielded afterwards showed just how counterproductive the over-politicising of education has become.
"...it does pay to let the professionals get their hands on something.
This term, schools are implementing their own methods of assessment to replace the old system of levels. It’s a bewildering mission for many which is why NAHT conducted and published research to help schools - over a year before the government released its own. Here’s an example of where school leaders have seized the initiative, taken ownership of standards and put forward workable, credible plans to support each other.
Sometimes, often even, it does pay to let the professionals get their hands on something.
The National Association of Head Teachers