Educational leadership & learning

Eric Halton, the Hampshire lead for assessment, spoke to delegates at the Conference about the work and thinking that has been taking place across the County this academic year. Below are some of his points that I found particularly interesting and my thoughts which I will share with staff at our school.

The buzz and intellectual power of designing and making sense of a new view of assessment and an assessment system needs to come from the profession. This is complex and complicated.

Approaches to pedagogy, learning and children have changed and school’s assessment systems need to fit this.

Higher standards are now expected with more children (at least 85% expected to meet end of year expectations).

As staff we need to believe / think that all children can achieve.

The Hampshire Assessment model is informed by the NAHT model. Hampshire will not be insisting on a model, but the principles should be applied to any model that schools choose. Hampshire model is that they should all have reached apprenticeship standard by November. Expert (Mastery) by April. Ensure fundamental ideas are introduced earlier in the year (Phase 1). More challenging ideas by February (Phase 2). Securing understanding (Mastery) in all objectives by April (Phase 3).

Following consultation of performance indicators it is clear that people are still thinking in levels. This is understandable given schools need to measure and show progress for accountability purposes.

Need to focus on the curriculum: ensure fluency and understanding to prepare pupils for the external assessments at the end. How do we rethink the curriculum?


Keep the prize (the end goal) in mind. This should be secure and confident learners.

Turn opportunities into improvement.

Differentiation: we must not allow glass ceilings to cap learning based on teacher expectations.

As staff we need to clearly define and understand the learning journey.

Continual and diagnostic assessment. Use a range of revealing assessment activities to uncover what the children are really thinking and to provoke misconceptions. Keeping up rather than catching up.

Wall of bricks. Need to have a secure first row (mastery) before building the next row. The curriculum builds on and links. Secure foundations and strong interlocking blocks. Key ideas and sufficiently linked. Take care to leave no significant gaps.

Surface learning to deeper understanding.

Mastery is a journey not a destination. Pupil paced learning = going at their pace. Sufficiency = mastering it enough. Catch up and keep up. Deepen their grasp of key ideas over time, rather than move on leaving gaps of pupils behind. Mastery is fluency over time, increasing independence, resilience to deal with complexity and new contexts. But it should not be reserved for the ‘brightest’ learners or certain year groups.

The new National Curriculum is not about dumbing down, we are raising the bar for all.

Growth Mindset. What matters for every pupil, all the curriculum. Mindset shift for learners and adults. Assessment alongside and inside. Prompting not avoiding misconceptions

Variation theory: we see things differently, our awareness needs focus, we learn through seeing how things connect, we learn through comparison.

Same objective for all pupils but may need different learning activities to access and achieve it. Have the children got all the objectives securely enough by the end of the year to move on to the next year group?

Working across domains is the key to mastery. It’s where the complexity comes in. Even though a specific objective we can link to other domains within the context: e.g. If we are working on multiplication and division, it links to fractions, place value…

  • How much detail of objectives do we have to track and monitor?
  • Create standard files? Examples from this year?
  • What do we tell parents about their child’s achievements and progress?
  • Domains: are they on track for each domain in R W M at different points in the year? How do we know?

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