There is no need for time-consuming research into the proposed wording of the attainment targets across the range of National Curriculum subjects as the wording is exactly the same for all subjects.
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.
Unfortunately the focus is the wording of the question although there are fundamental philosophical issues behind this change which need to be thoroughly explored. It is to be hoped that responses relating to these issues will be fully taken into account.
The rationale behind this minimalist approach to attainment targets is set out in the consultation document. In summary:
- Legally ATs are required to set standards at end of each KS
- Currently this is done with levels at KS1, 2 & 3 and grade C at KS4
- The Government wants the focus of teaching to be ‘subject content’ rather than ‘abstract level descriptions’
- The single statement of attainment above will, the document states, ‘encourage all pupils to reach demanding standards’
- The ‘apply’ and ‘understand’ aspects of the AT do not get a mention in the stated aspirations that parents ‘will be given clear information on what their children should know’ and that teachers ‘will be able to report on how every pupil is progressing in acquiring this knowledge’.
There is obviously a mismatch between this last statement and the wording of the attainment target but, with its narrow focus on the wording, there is a danger that this mismatch is could be considered outside the scope of the question.
There are many other important and pertinent issues, although they too might be deemed to be beyond the scope of the question. These include:
- whether it is right that NC levels should no longer exist
- the extent to which a single statement of attainment will contribute to higher standards
- how feasible it is for teachers to report on pupil progress in terms of the extent to which they have met expectation in terms of what they know and how well they can apply and understand ‘the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study’
- the extent to which parents are likely to gain a better understanding of their children’s progress from an exhaustive list of what has been learned (and not learned!) across the full range of subjects rather than from levels as at present
- the extent to which the switch in emphasis towards memorisation of knowledge (the bottom level of Bloom’s taxonomy) is likely to lead to a real rise in standards…….see Dumbing Down in the Name of Rigour
Ideally these issues should be explored in parallel with accountability with which they are entwined. The secondary accountability consultation closes at the end of the month but, unfortunately the primary consultation is yet to be released.
If the purpose of the consultation is really to ensure the views and experience of respondents are fully exploited for the benefit of learners, comments relating to these wider issues will influence the revision of the document.