ASCL responds to AQA’s call for a new approach to numeracy, literacy and digital fluency

Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to AQA’s report on a new approach to assessing numeracy, literacy and digital fluency.
“AQA is spot on. The problem with our current set of qualifications is that they are designed to sort children in order of their attainment rather than encourage and reflect competency in the vital skills of literacy, numeracy and digital fluency. We are clinging on to an archaic system because of an ingrained belief by government that exams taken by all children at the same time are the only meaningful way to assess their and their school’s performance. It is a fallacy that means far too many children – around one third – are consigned at the end of secondary school to falling below the government’s bar of a Grade 4 in GCSE English and maths. This damages their education and career options, and ultimately their life chances.
“ASCL has previously proposed a very similar set of changes to those put forward by AQA – new competency-based qualifications in literacy and numeracy which would work much more like a driving test and would be taken at the point of readiness. The principle behind these qualifications would be to support children in these vital skills rather than knocking them down. We believe this would be better for young people and improve the country’s skills base, and we are delighted that AQA is proposing to explore how this approach might be made a reality.”