Opinion Former Article

Teachers and pupils pay a high price for high stakes accountability

Teachers and pupils are being burnt out by the demands of the assessment, tracking and data systems employed in many schools, which drive up teacher workload, undermine the ability of teachers to focus on teaching and supporting their pupils and generate anxiety and stress in many pupils, representatives at the Annual Conference of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, have argued.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“In too many schools data is being abused and misused to set teachers up to fail and to deny them pay progression.

“Reforms to assessment have resulted in schools creating and implementing their own, often bureaucratic and workload intensive, assessment and testing structures for pupils.

“The high-stakes accountability system is driving up teacher workload, stress and anxiety with the consequent adverse impact on the provision of high-quality education for every child.

“An alternative approach to assessment, data and accountability  which genuinely supports schools to assist every pupil to achieve their full potential is long overdue.”


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Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the ICC in Belfast from 19-21 April.

The full text of the motion is below:

Conference believes that effective assessment is critical to ensuring that children and young people can benefit from high-quality learning experiences.

Conference further believes that pupil achievement data can play a useful role in informing professional dialogue about pupil progress and attainment.

Conference, however, is concerned that in many schools and colleges, assessment, tracking and data practices are not fit for purpose and are driven by the high-stakes accountability system.

Conference calls on the National Executive to continue to challenge data and assessment practices that:
(i)         make use of pupil assessment data to deny legitimate pay progression to teachers and call their competence into question;
(ii)         over-emphasise assessment at the expense of teaching and learning;
(iii)        place unacceptable workload burdens on teachers and school leaders and
(iv)        involve purchasing overpriced commercial packages that are of limited educational value and fail to provide effective support for learning.

Conference further calls upon the National Executive to:
(a)        investigate education systems which do not have this accountability culture;
(b)        investigate the impact of the high-stakes accountability system on the health and wellbeing of teachers and children and young people and
(c)        lobby the Government to provide an alternative system conducive to the health and wellbeing of all educational stakeholders.

Conference continues to endorse the work of the National Executive in protecting members, including through the use of industrial action where necessary, from the adverse consequences of poor assessment practices.

(Executive, Birmingham)

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