STATEMENT: Examination u-turns, teacher assessment and Black students

Authors: Black Educators Alliance

Generations of activists and academics have sought to highlight the reality that teacher assessment, underpinned by deficit theorising and racial bias continues to have a negative impact on black students’ achievement and attainment.

As soon as schools, colleges and universities were impacted by Covid-19 and subsequent government lockdown, BEA have highlighted concerns regarding bias in teacher assessment, and its potential impact upon examination and attainment. These concerns were raised directly to the NEU and Ofqual by BEA members, a petition was launched and subsequently our serious concerns taken to other spaces.

With the publications of numerous reports and reviews over many years; such as, the Lammy Review (2017) and the Runnymede Report (2017); including the inequalities exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic; and subsequent anti-racism and social justice movements, we have all continued to build upon these concerns, alongside highlighting the systemic and institutional flaws within our education system, which disproportionately impact Black students, teachers and wider communities.

We are committed to fighting to transform our education system to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities and outcomes, and remain deeply concerned that the inherent bias in teacher assessment is likely to further impact examinations, outcomes and future aspirations of Black students in these unprecedented times.

Significant research already suggests that disadvantaged students are disproportionately affected by the UK Government and OFQUAL’s damaging approaches to examination moderation, which through continued protests by young people across the country, has resulted in their reliance upon teacher assessment.

We stand with all students affected by the damaging effects of this examination crisis, and remain concerned by the long term effects for their next steps, whether in employment, education or training. 

Black students must already navigate a myriad of barriers and forms of racial and cultural discrimination throughout  their academic journeys, and are likely to bear the brunt of structural and institutional disparities, even when deemed to be better than the systemic alternatives.

Therefore, BEA calls upon the National Education Union (NEU) to:

  1. Produce guidance which acknowledges and challenges teachers’ racial and cultural bias in teacher assessment;
  2. Undertake a full and comprehensive investigation into this matter;
  3. Develop immediate and specific support for Black students regarding examination appeal processes and institutional teacher assessment.

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