Testing for children with SEND: The Rochford Review

The final report of The Rochford Review of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests was published earlier in the week. As I've been busy this week, then recovering from being busy, the first I knew was when a reporter from School's Week rang for a quote. I advised her with one eye half-open to ask Barney, and then went back to sleep for the rest of the day as I'm still getting over shoulder surgery.

Testing for children with SEND: The Rochford Review

What's The Rochford Review?

The independent review was undertaken by a team of experts, including parent carer reps, chaired by Diane Rochford. Its remit was to consider the best way to ensure that pupils who have not completed the relevant key stage programmes of study, and are therefore working below the standard of statutory testing arrangements, have the opportunity to demonstrate attainment and progress at primary school under the government’s new assessment arrangements.

And it's all very thorough, though the recommendations to remove P-Scales has been met with a mixed reception. But let's not forget, these are RECOMMENDATIONS from an independent review and that means all, some or none of the findings may be adopted by the government, which said:

"We will consult on the report’s recommendations in early 2017. Final decisions will be made following that consultation.

In the meantime schools should continue to use the pre-key stage standards and P scales for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests."

What's a P-scale?

In case you don't know what a P-scale is, the report defines it as

Performance scales (P scales) were designed to sit below the level descriptors used to assess the old national curriculum. It is currently a statutory requirement to use P scales to assess and report the attainment of pupils with SEND who are not working at the standard of mainstream statutory assessments.

It then says that given the range of problems and challenges associated with P scales, it would be better to stop using them and develop a new approach to assessment that is more appropriate for the varying needs of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, better aligned with the new national curriculum, and allows for more fluid progression onto wider forms of statutory national assessment.

The recommendations

The review makes 10 recommendations, 10 top tips, if you will, to government for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests at the end of key stages 1 and 2:

  1. The removal of the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
  2. The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests are made permanent and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
  3. Schools assess pupils’ development in all 4 areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice, but statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning.
  4. A statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the following 7 aspects of cognition and learning and report this to parents and carers:
    • responsiveness
    • curiosity
    • discovery
    • anticipation
    • persistence
    • initiation
    • investigation
  5. Following recommendation 4, schools should decide their own approach to making these assessments according to the curriculum they use and the needs of their pupils.
  6. Initial teacher training (ITT) and Continuing professional development (CPD) for staff in educational settings should reflect the need for teachers to have a greater understanding of assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those pupils with SEND who are not engaged in subject-specific learning.
  7. Where there is demonstrable good practice in schools, those schools should actively share their expertise and practice with others. Schools in need of support should actively seek out and create links with those that can help to support them.
  8. Schools should work collaboratively to develop an understanding of good practice in assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, particularly across different educational settings. Schools should support this by actively engaging in quality assurance, such as through school governance and peer review.
  9. There should be no requirement to submit assessment data on the 7 areas of cognition and learning to the DfE, but schools must be able to provide evidence to support a dialogue with parents and carers, inspectors, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, school governors and those engaged in peer review to ensure robust and effective accountability.
  10. Further work should be done to consider the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with EAL.

You can read the report in full here, and it is full of interesting findings and, dare I say it, holistic, findings that I think many parents will welcome as very positive. However, I don't see a lot of point in going into them in depth here until we know whether, and which ones, are actually going to happen. If you have any views, please leave them below in the comments.

Steph's view

Instead, what's far more interesting to me is what a parent thinks. Steph Curtis, over at Steph's Two Girls has written her own review of the review and what testing at primary school means to her and her daughter who has autism.

I'm delighted to announce that Steph has finally agreed to become a columnist for us and she will add a vital viewpoint of being the parent of a girl with ASD and also Pathological Demand Avoidance, which as we know, is something quite different from being a boy with the same conditions.

Here is her view of the report and of testing of a child whose profile is very 'spiky'.

Tania Tirraoro

Tania Tirraoro

Founder, CEO at Special Needs Jungle
Founder of Special Needs Jungle. Parent of two sons with Asperger Syndrome.
Journalist & author of two novels and a guide to SEN statementing. PR & social media expert. Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate.
Tania Tirraoro

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