GCSEs and A-levels should be replaced with alternative assessments in the long run, teachers have said.
School staff now have a “golden opportunity” to stop “toxic testing” amid growing calls to reform national assessments, the National Education Union (NEU) virtual annual conference heard.
A motion passed at the conference called for the replacement of GCSEs and A-levels with ‘more flexible’ assessment methods.
The National Union of Education is committed to a major overhaul of both GCSE and A-Level exams, replacing the ‘toxic’ tests with a ‘more flexible’ assessment tool
The union will also campaign for the abolition of Sats tests for primary school children
It added that the conference “supports the radical transformation of A levels and post-16 qualifications to broaden student choice and support them in accessing future education and careers.”
Teachers in England are deciding students’ GCSE and A levels this summer after exams were canceled for the second year in a row during the pandemic.
The changes to the assessment have resulted in the need for post-Covid GCSEs to be reformed across the industry.
The original motion called for the abolition of GCSEs, but delegates voted to change the motion.
Instead, the conference supported the “replacement of GCSEs and A-levels with broader, more flexible curricula, specifications, and assessment methods that meet the needs of 21st century students.”
Delegates also reiterated their support for the abolition of Sats tests and the baseline measurement in primary schools.
The conference voted to “launch a vigorous campaign – taking advantage of the fact that no legal primary testing has taken place for two years – to revive the call for an alternative assessment strategy.”
This campaign can consist of “taking action, up to and including primary members of voting to boycott high stakes legal testing.”
Speaking during the debate, Duncan Morrison of Lewisham, South East London, said, “We have a golden opportunity to win our agenda to stop testing for toxic substances.”
He added: ‘Parents can see that we don’t need tests. They can see that there is an alternative. Anyone can see that there is no reason to go back.
“We need to push this advantage home now.”
Another motion, supported by delegates at the annual NEU conference, described GCSEs and A-levels as “not fit for purpose.”
It added that student progress would be better assessed and supported by a mix of approaches – ‘including moderated teacher assessment’.
Denis White, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, said teacher assessment “points the way towards a fairer assessment method.”
“This is much preferable to high stakes year-end exams, where students cram knowledge at the end of the course and endlessly practice exam assignments,” he said.
“This is the culture of the exam factory that has come to dominate everything we do in schools.”
Dr. Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The pandemic has taught us bitter lessons about the impact of inequality on health, life chances and well-being.
Today the union outlined the steps the government should take to learn from the failures of the past and open up our narrow, test-driven and restrictive education system so that all students can benefit from it, from the early years to the early age. maturity.
The government’s dogmatic belief in testing all primary school students to monitor school performance is destroying children’s enjoyment of learning and lowering the quality of education.
“The union will campaign to have the government drop its plans to test all four-year-olds when they enter shelter class and abandon the idea of restoring SATs by 2022.”
She added: ‘Moving with the core of the educational view, the union is calling for a fundamental reform of 16+ and 18+ exams.
Under the aegis of government, we are trapped more deeply than ever in a divided and debt-laden system of higher and higher education that offers opportunities to some, while others lack clear path of study and qualifications.
“In a society striving for economic progress and common good, these arrangements are archaic and unbearable.”