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Key stage assessments could be facing axe

By Anna Maguire

Key stage assessments could be replaced with 'blind' assessments in 15% of schools under changes proposed by the Department of Education.

The assessments were thrown into disarray earlier this month after a ground breaking General Teaching Council (GTC) survey revealed up to 89% of schools believe they are of limited or no use.

The Department of Education is currently in negotiations with teaching unions – three of which are involved in industrial action over the controversial assessments – around proposed changes to the process.

Pupils are assessed at ages eight and 11 for Key Stage 1 and 2 assessments and at the age of 14 through Key Stage 3 assessments.

It is understood the Department of Education has proposed extending the deadline for schools to return their Key Stage assessments results. Some 86% of schools cited the deadline as problematic in the GTC survey.

However, a source who attended last week's meeting with the Department of Education said that the workload involved in the assessments will remain largely the same for several years to come under departmental proposals.

The department is also proposing a phased introduction of 'blind' assessments of schools – a process known as 'sampling' – which would replace blanket key stage assessments with assessments carried out in between 10% and 15% of schools.

Unions are considering their responses to the proposed changes ahead of an announcement by Education Minister John O'Dowd.

"Some of it is constructive but we are lacking in detail," a source told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

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