Friday, 22nd July, 2011 The contradiction is, to this observer, breathtaking. Last week, the Government said this: “Too many of our public services are still run according to the maxim ‘the man in Whitehall really does know best’…The idea behind this view of the world – that a small group of Whitehall ministers and officials have a monopoly on wisdom – has propagated a lowest common denominator approach to public services…” “People should be in the driving seat, not politicians and bureaucrats,” said the Government, in its “open public services” white paper. On Wednesday, it announced new decisions on what is to count in schoolRead More →

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 Well, I said at the end of the last blog that I’d be writing something imminently on the relationship between the Bew assessment review and the government’s ongoing national curriculum review. Here, slightly earlier than planned, is what I had in mind. This week’s Government response to the Bew review into primary assessment could be redundant within just over two years. That is the implication of comments made by a leading figure within the test regulator Ofqual at a conference on the national curriculum I attended on Friday. Stephen Anwyll, Ofqual’s head of 3-14 assessment, said the long-term future of testing wouldRead More →

 Monday, 18th July, 2011 This is just a quick reflection on union reaction to the Government’s proposals on the future of assessment at Key Stage 2. Ministers published today their response to last month’s final report by the Bew inquiry into this subject, the review which itself was triggered by last year’s Sats boycott by the National Association of Head Teachers and National Union of Teachers. The unions’ reaction is interesting: four different associations produced arguably, three or four different positions in response. This could be viewed as surprising, given that, for all the changes put forward in Bew, the fundamentals of the high-stakes testingRead More →

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 I should begin this blog post with a note of slight regret. It gives me no pleasure to be writing something which is critical of the Bew report, especially given the courtesy with which Lord Bew treated me in giving evidence to the review. He invited me to do so, and even wrote me a handwritten note to thank me afterwards.  The review’s interim report, published in April, was, I thought, a largely impressive synthesis of evidence on this subject which gave me hope that, whatever the outcome and whatever the constraints of the remit, the issues would be given aRead More →