I see that a member of the government’s data management review group, Edison David, thinks that the issue with teacher workload is simply one of ensuring that teachers understand the benefits of poring over data (TES 20th November 2015). Intrigued by this, I went on the gov.uk website to find that the vast majority of its members seem to be recruited from SLTs. There were two ordinary primary school teachers and not a single ordinary secondary school teacher. See the link below:
Let’s face it, you don’t reduce workload by recruiting a committee of people who are responsible for creating a lot of it. Having been seduced into buying expensive data analysis tools, SLTs feel the need to justify the expense by asking teachers to spend ever increasing amounts of time poring over data. The fact that a lot of it is “cargo cult” data seems to pass them by. If data is required to be entered every couple of weeks it is unlikely to be have had any sort of moderation or standardisation at all. And even with moderation/standardisation across teachers and departments, there will still be variation, since it is impossible to reduce the complex process of learning to a series of “can do” statements, although schools up and down the country are trying to do so and creating extra work as a result.
The best thing that could happen would be for schools to be required to adopt the recommendations of the Assessment Without Levels Commission, meaning that data should not be required to be entered on data management systems more than once a term. Yes, many SLTs will throw up their hands in horror at the demise of APP, levels, sublevels, tick boxes, “can do” statements etc, all dutifully recorded every few weeks. But summative grades every term are all that is needed to be recorded. Contrary to the views of some SLTs, teachers will still be carrying out formative assessment in between times and acting on it – indeed it will be more effective as it won’t be reduced to a number on a spreadsheet. Teachers can engage with the detail of where a child has difficulty, instead of wasting time poring over statement banks deciding which one fits best.