MPs launch inquiry into primary assessment

The Education Select Committee has launched an inquiry into assessment in primary schools to scrutinise how recent reforms have affected teaching and learning.

New tougher SATs were introduced this year with a stricter focus on maths, readings, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

The inquiry will consider whether the current tests focus too heavily on English and maths, leading schools to neglect other areas of the curriculum like science and modern languages.

The new SATs faced heavy criticism from teachers and led to boycotts in some parts of the country, with critics warning they placed too much pressure on children.

Neil Carmichael, Committee chair, said: "This summer saw the introduction of arguably the biggest reforms in primary assessment since external assessment was introduced 25 years ago. In this inquiry we want to look at the impact of the new national curriculum assessment (SATs) and how the current system affects teaching and learning.

“News of SATs boycotts in certain parts of the country and data showing almost half of pupils in England failed to meet the new tough standards in reading, writing and maths point to unresolved issues in the way we prepare our children for secondary school and help them reach their potential. As a Committee we will want to examine how children are assessed, how well the SATs are being delivered, and what steps the government should take in the future to make sure our education system delivers for all children."

The Committee is currently inviting written submissions addressing the following topics:
- The purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this
- The advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school
- How the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning
- Logistics and delivery of the SATs
- Training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems
- Next steps following the most recent reforms to primary assessment

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