18 January 2017
Cambridge Assessment’s Group Director of Assessment Research and Development Tim Oates CBE has been giving evidence to an inquiry into primary assessment in England.
Tim appeared before the UK Parliament’s Education Commons Select Committee to discuss changes to primary assessment introduced in England last year.
Appearing alongside Tim were Joanna Hall, Deputy Director for Schools at education watchdog Ofsted, Dr Rebecca Allen, Director of research venture Education Datalab and Harvey Goldstein, Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol.
Committee Chair Neil Carmichael began proceedings by asking Tim how the primary school accountability system in England was impacting on the quality of education. Tim responded by saying that, contrary to assumptions, the density of testing in England was not unusual internationally and that the use of the outcomes had improved considerably in recent years.
He insisted the current accountability system in England works, “producing a great deal of data which allows us to understand three important things: between school variation, within school variation and gives us evidence about the performance of the education system as a whole”.
Tim also asserted that there was a need for accountability measures, saying there was “pretty robust international evidence” that suggests that “appropriate” accountability measures are linked to those systems which have periods of sustained improvement.
The discussion then moved on to the removal in England just over two years ago of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress in primary schools.
Tim said that the removal of levels was an explicit recommendation by the expert panel he chaired on the National Curriculum in England, and he continued to think it was "absolutely the right thing to do”. But he acknowledged that communication around the principles behind the removal of levels could have been improved.
You can watch the full evidence session on Parliament TV here.