Belfast Telegraph

Lesson to be learnt is system has failed

By Gary Farrell

I was delighted to learn that our politicians have been debating the farcical process that is End of Key Stage (KS) Assessment.

This is an issue that has been causing concern among primary and post primary principals.

On March 5 I attended a meeting of SELB principals to discuss our growing concerns. They included:

  • For years many schools have failed to apply the process of awarding a level consistently, therefore skewing the NI average, resulting in many schools, who have applied the levels fairly falling below the NI average. This skewed data is then used by the Department of Education to inform boards of Governor of how their school is performing in relation to other schools and by ETI during inspection.
  • It is generally accepted that children at the end of KS1 will be a level 2, KS2 level 3 or 4 and KS3 level 5 or 6. However, under a Freedom of Information request made to CCEA, we've learned that one school in 2013 had as many as 90% of children attaining a level 3 at KS1 and almost 70% level 5 at KS2.
  • Once a school submits such high levels to CCEA there are no checks in place to allow for these levels to be verified. The debate within the SELB gathered momentum and other principal groups meetings have taken place in support of our action.

We have shared these concerns with CCEA and the department on many occasions but felt that we weren't being heard.

The ongoing debate within the Assembly has now highlighted further the grave concerns that my colleagues and I have been voicing in recent times and the time is now to realise that this current system, which has been tried and tested for many years in different forms, has simply failed.

The use of the current levelling process and the insurmountable time spent on producing portfolios of evidence followed by the collation of data does not serve the children or the parents in my school well.

  • Gary Farrell is head of Our Lady's and St Mochua's PS, Derrynoose

Belfast Telegraph

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