Tackling Underachievement: Tougher Tests for Children Aged 7 and Elite Teachers in Weak Schools

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has just announced changes to education to help raise attainment through incentivising elite teachers to work in weak schools, have 7 year old sit harder exams, improve marking, and make it a requirement for students to take more traditional subjects at GCSE level.


In her speech on Tuesday, Mrs Morgan explained how the pre-election pledge includes the plan to recruit 1500 high-achieving, quality teachers over the next 5 years for the weaker, lower achieving schools. This scheme includes offering financially incentives to the teachers willing to join the project and work in these schools for 2 years, and as Mrs Morgan explains ‘even one new teacher coming in from outside, bringing new ideas, bringing new experience, offering collaboration, it does make a big difference’.


In addition Mrs Morgan also described new changes to the primary and secondary assessment system. This will include the introduction of new, harder and more formal tests for children aged 7, and these exams will come as an addition to the baseline tests and SATs. Changes to the marking process are also being considered, with the possibility that schools will send their results to be marked at a national level and tested externally in order to create a fairer, more standardised measure of pupil performance.


The final change is the idea, first voiced in June this year, that called for GCSE students to be required to take GCSEs in English, maths, history or geography, two sciences and a language except in special circumstances e.g. a head teaches agreeing to allow an SEN student to take less GCSEs. It is hoped that this will mean schools can reach the target of 90% of students taking traditional subjects.


These changes have been criticised by some, like Deputy General Secretary of the NUT who said ‘It is quite staggering the degree to which the government is unable to understand how their approach to the measurement of the performance of schools, and the system as a whole, is turning schools into exam factories.’ Do you think these new changes will benefit schools and improve education? Are you a teacher who would consider relocating to help underperforming schools? Let us know your thoughts and opinions on social media. 

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