Teaching to the test gives 'hollow understanding'

Faculties in England are specializing in assessments and exams, quite than giving pupils a great grounding in a variety of topics, the top of Ofsted warns.

Amanda Spielman says the concentrate on GCSEs and nationwide curriculum assessments, usually often called Sats, is on the expense of “wealthy and full data”.

She accepts a great faculty curriculum ought to result in good examination outcomes.

However she says good examination outcomes don’t all the time imply kids have acquired the topic data they want.

Her feedback got here as she set out the preliminary findings of an Ofsted analysis undertaking into the curriculum in England’s state faculties.

Is the Ofsted boss saying testing is unhealthy?

No. She says: “Testing at school clearly has worth.”

Nevertheless, she is encouraging faculties in England to focus much less on drilling pupils by previous papers and extra on widening their data and horizons.

“The common taking of check papers does little to extend a baby’s capacity to understand,” she says.

“A a lot better use of time is to show and assist kids to learn and browse extra.”

Why has she come out and mentioned this?

Ms Spielman says faculties have an obligation to develop every particular person youngster and provides them a broad schooling.

“A very good curriculum ought to result in good outcomes,” she says.

“Nevertheless, good examination ends in and of themselves do not all the time imply that the pupil acquired wealthy and full data from the curriculum.

“Within the worst instances, educating to the check, quite than educating the complete curriculum, leaves a pupil with a hollowed-out and flimsy understanding.”

She additionally says a rounded schooling – or the dearth of 1 – has penalties for social mobility, with much less educational kids being significantly hard-hit if faculties drop topics comparable to artwork to concentrate on core ones.

“Restricted topic selection for low-attaining pupils disproportionately impacts pupils from low-income backgrounds,” she says.

Will something change?

It definitely seems doubtless – Ms Spielman is in a high-profile job and her viewpoint carries weight.

Whereas she makes clear the varsity curriculum is the accountability of the Division for Schooling, she signifies faculties will see a shift within the emphasis and tone of their subsequent go to from her inspectors.

“College leaders must recognise how straightforward it’s to concentrate on the efficiency of the varsity and lose sight of the pupil,” she says.

“I acknowledge that inspection might nicely have helped to tip this steadiness previously.”

What’s the historical past of all this?

Three years in the past, a brand new curriculum was launched throughout faculties in England. It was the brainchild of former Schooling Secretary Michael Gove. The goal was to lift requirements.

In main faculties, the end-of-school Sats, turned more durable, with extra concentrate on the “three Rs” – studying, writing and maths.

The primary raft of “robust” assessments have been taken in 2016, and simply over half (53%) of 11-year-olds made the grade.

In secondary faculties, the quantity of coursework was diminished and the main focus shifted to an end-of-course examination quite than taking assessments alongside the best way.

The primary spherical of latest GCSEs – in English and maths to begin with – have been taken this summer season, with the go charge dropping in each topics.

What’s the response from lecturers to the Ofsted chief’s feedback?

Educating unions have lengthy argued that testing – with outcomes straight linked to high school league tables – means lecturers find yourself educating to the check.

Responding to Ms Spielman’s feedback, Geoff Barton, common secretary of the Affiliation of College and Faculty Leaders, mentioned: “It is hardly stunning that faculties focus intensely on Key Stage 2 assessments and GCSEs as that is how their efficiency is measured, with GCSEs essential to the life-chances of their pupils.

“If Ofsted desires them to focus much less on these assessments, we’d counsel it lobbies the federal government for a change to the accountability system quite than criticising faculties.

“Everyone desires to show a broad curriculum. It’s important that we have now an accountability system which helps quite than narrows that aspiration.”

Nick Brook, deputy common secretary of the varsity leaders’ union NAHT, added: “We should worth a broad vary of topics within the faculty day in order that pupils’ alternatives should not restricted.

“College leaders need to do what’s finest for the youngsters of their faculty however are restricted by an accountability system which locations undue weight on SATs outcomes.”

What’s the authorities’s response?

The DfE says all faculties ought to present a broad and balanced curriculum for all kids and that the perfect faculties are doing that.

“Our reforms are making certain kids are taught the data and expertise they should fulfil their potential, and Ofsted’s chief inspector recognises the significance of those reforms.

“We’re starting to see larger requirements proper throughout the varsity system with extra six-year-olds studying fluently; extra main faculty pupils reaching the anticipated customary of a rigorous main curriculum; and secondary faculty pupils rising to the problem of extra demanding GCSEs in maths and English.”


Revealed at Wed, 11 Oct 2017 13:46:24 +0000