Time to end ‘teaching to the test’ culture.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran used a speech at the National Education Union to demand an end to the ‘teaching to the test’ culture by scrapping league tables, Ofsted and high-stakes testing in primary schools.

Speaking at the conference yesterday (15 Apr), Ms Moran warned that the Government cannot create an education system that gives every child the “opportunity to flourish” when teachers are “over-worked, under-paid and pressured to the point of sickness.”

Ms Moran also encouraged delegates to contribute to her newly launched independent Education Commission's call for evidence. The Commission intends to develop a vision for the school system of the future.  

On Ofsted

"The Ofsted brand is fundamentally broken. It has long ago lost the trust of the teaching profession. Which is why I think tinkering around the edges simply isn’t enough. We need a complete overhaul, replacing this inspection scheme altogether.

"So I propose build a system which looks at the culture of a school and focuses on the wellbeing of teachers and pupils, as much as on academic results.

"Where a school is struggling, the system should support that school to improve, not punish it. This system should be led by teachers, for teachers – with peer-to-peer support to help schools where they need to do better."

On league tables

“Why is it that Government continues to publish state-sanctioned league tables? Why encourage schools to compete so ferociously for the highest number, forgetting their true purpose of improving education for all?

"Choosing a school shouldn’t be like renewing home or car insurance. Schools are so much more than just numbers.

"Gather together and publish parent and teacher feedback from surveys. Ask neighbouring school leaders to look at the quality of pastoral care or the breadth of subjects offered."

On high-stakes testing in primary schools

“It is is high time we ended the unnecessary stress placed on pupils and teachers by high-stakes testing in primary schools. Which is why we should scrap SATs and reception baseline tests altogether.

"With teachers constantly having to focus on these and other tests throughout a child’s life, important parts of the curriculum get pushed to the back of the queue. Rather than preparing students for life, we’re teaching students how to be tested.”

The Liberal Democrats revealed through freedom of information that there were 3,750 teachers in England on long-term stress leave in 2016/17, up 5% on the previous year.

Layla Moran’s speech

Commenting on the speech by Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, to the NEU Conference in Liverpool, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

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“The alternative vision for education set out by Layla Moran will be music to the ears of many education professionals. Scrapping Ofsted, banning league tables and abolishing SATs would open up the space to build an education system that meets the needs of all children and young people whilst restoring the professional status of teachers.

“Layla Moran is right to point out that schools urgently need resources and funding. It beggars belief that in one of the richest nations in the world our schools are having to resort to Amazon wishlists and crowdfunding to try and get by. It is high time that the Government grasps the scale of the education funding crisis and starts investing in this and future generations.

“Layla Moran is also right to highlight the impact that almost a decade of public sector pay restraint has had on teachers.  Some new teachers are barely earning the minimum wage once you have factored in their excessive workload. Teachers need a pay rise and to feel valued for the vital work that they do. Until the Government changes course the recruitment and retention crisis gripping schools will not be resolved.

“I’m proud to be a member of the independent Education Commission set up by Layla Moran to develop a vision for the school system of the future. I hope that teachers, support staff, parents and governors will respond to the forthcoming call for evidence and make their voices heard.”

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