Professor Bill Lucas

University of Winchester
07 May 2022
Assessment in England is no longer fit for purpose. We are not evidencing the kinds of dispositions and capabilities society increasingly wants. We place too much reliance on high-stakes, standardised testing often testing the wrong things in the wrong ways. High-stakes assessment is having a damaging impact on the health and wellbeing of pupils. Assessment is out of sync with curriculum and pedagogy. Where we have become increasingly evidence-based in teaching and learning, we are failing to keep up with the science of assessment preferring to rely on outdated, outmoded and unsubtle methods. 

While the negative impacts of assessment are currently most seen at Secondary level in England, they are also manifest at Primary level.

In the Primary Education Commission I suggest we might like to explore:

  • Ways of better evidencing the strengths of the whole child
  • How intelligent use of formative assessment can improve the quality of learning and enhance well-being
  • The validity and usefulness of the Reception Baseline Assessment
  • The strangeness of exploring only multiplication in the Multiplication Check in Year 4 and what that communicates about what it is to think like a mathematician
  • The largely negative impact of SATS on the curriculum and overall experience of Year 6
  • Imaginative ways of using smart, on demand, online, adaptive testing in Maths and English. 

Fundamentally I suggest we need to rethink how we can better track progress in a number of key areas from the Reception Baseline (or equivalent) to the end of Year 6.

Just as some countries (Australia for example) now recommend that all students should have a Learner profile at the end of their school life, I suggest we might want to consider all Primary pupils having a Personal Profile at the end of their Primary to capture strengths to date and improve transition to Secondary.

Ultimately, I believe that all learners will have a personal url, a lifelong learner profile which they will adapt throughout their lives for multiple purposes.


Lucas, B. (2021). Rethinking Assessment in Education: The case for change. Melbourne: Centre for Strategic Education.

Lucas, B. (2022). A Field Guide to assessing creative thinking in schools. Perth: FORM/Rethinking Assessment.

Milligan, S., Luo, R., Hassion, E. and Johnson, J. (2020). Future-proofing students: What they need to know and how to assess and credential them. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

Milligan, S., Luo, R., Kamai, T., Rice, S., and Keang, T. (2020) Recognition of learning success for all: Ensuring trust and utility in a new approach to recognition of learning in senior secondary education in Australia. Melbourne: Learning Creates Australia.