Educational leadership & learning

Archive for the ‘Assessment’ Category

Discussing metacognition

I was pleased and proud to be invited along to a Chartered College of Teaching event at Winchester University last Wednesday (7 March 2018). The focus for the event was discussing ‘The Science of Learning’ and included other presentations about research included in the latest version of ‘Impact’ (The College of Teaching’s regular research magazine).

I shared work we have done at Cornerstone CE Primary, to develop our understanding and use of metcognitive strategies and thinking. We have:

  • looked at and discussed key research
  • given staff time in research groups led by an external NPQH colleague
  • developed out ‘Teaching for Learning Foundations’ and ‘Feedback policy’ to help learners understand clearly what they are learning, how they can be successful, and how we enable them to reflect on their learning / think about their thinking within specific ‘Learning Aims’
  • developed Learning Powers’ (with out Pupil Voice Groups) and use a variety of ‘Learning Journey Prompts’ to ask before, during and after learning sequences

It was useful to articulate this process to other colleagues, and to reflect on the effectiveness and impact of these approaches through the Q&A session that followed.


Teaching for Learning Foundations

Feedback policy




Year 6 aspirations

I would like to start by offering my sincere thanks for the generous and open way  3 schools and particular colleagues within them shared their valuable professional experiences and expertise:

Twyford St Mary’s C of E Primary: Hannah Beckett and Tracey

Uplands Primary: Christina Dalingwater and Sarah Ackernman

Botley C of E Primary: Joe Cooil


The majority of my time as a class teacher was spent teaching Y5 and Y6 (13 years). However the last time I had class teacher responsibility was back in 2011.

Personally I love working with this age group. The questions, the interactions, the curriculum advancing and getting more sophisticated, the greater cognitive independence to generate, adapt and refine ideas, opinions, outcomes…

Our school opened in September 2013 with a YR and a Y1 class, and has grown ‘from the bottom’. So in 2018-2019 we will have our first class of Y6s. This brings new opportunities and new challenges. I am keen it does not also bring an unhealthy amount of stress and pressure, either for us as staff or for the pupils.

All colleagues working in primary are aware of the ‘drop in data’ (not standards per se) in the 2015-2016 with the introduction of the new ‘tougher’ Y6 SATs. We are also aware of how on average schools improved their data last academic year, having reflected and adapted after the first year’s experience.

We are also aware of Amanda Spielman’s focus (rightly so) on maintaining a broad and balanced curriculum across every year group in primary.

Despite a number of years of personal teaching in Y6, I have been keen to visit other schools within our Local Authority (Hampshire) who have supported their Y6 pupils to achieve extremely well over the past 2 years (both in terms of attainment and progress).

At our school we define Inspirational Outcomes (i.e. what we want the pupils to achieve by the end of each year and particularly their final year before transfer) as:

  • Positive, caring, hard-working, balanced and wise people
  • Sustained and substantial progress with attainment above LA and National
  • Aspirational, courageous, self-fulfilled, collaborative and reflective learners

This definition clearly states that although aspirational academic outcomes are very important, they are not the whole picture. Indeed our Curriculum policy Aims (which staff quote correctly like to quote back to me at times) state:

We aim to:

  • Ignite a love of learning in all pupils
  • Encourage empowering partnerships between all learners in the school (pupils and staff)
  • Ensure the statutory entitlement of every pupil to a balanced provision of all subjects within the National Curriculum is met
  • Ensure all pupils achieve well in all aspects of the curriculum, making appropriate rates of personal progress so that they leave Cornerstone fully prepared for the next stage of their education
  • Facilitate children’s acquisition of ideas, knowledge, skills, mindsets and qualities of character, which will help them to develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and morally
  • Develop a range of Learning behaviours with every pupil through the way they uncover and discover the curriculum content to help them grow as ‘Powerful Learners’ and as confident, happy and mature people
  • Grow an ‘Inspirational Learning Community’ amongst both pupils and adults through the way the curriculum is developed, enhanced and celebrated

So I went to visit other schools, to discuss how they have managed to support their pupils to achieve extremely well over the last two years. Below is a summary of some of the main trends, though it was interesting to note that despite commonalities all 3 schools had also had success in different ways.

  1. Focus on developing the quality of Teaching & Learning in all classes
  2. Maintain a positive Growth Mindset, that with perseverance we can continue to improve and the pupils view SATs as an opportunity to proudly show what they have learnt and have achieved
  3. Effective use of assessment information and use of feedback to identify gaps in understanding, enable responsive teaching and inform future planning
  4. The school needs to take ownership of a broad and balanced curriculum, which continue to inspire learners and is exciting and creative, whilst giving numerous opportunities to apply and practice key skills in real and meaningful contexts
  5. Use of targeted and specific cut away groups within lessons and use of registration challenges / daily drips to practice and secure understanding of key basic knowledge and skills to grow the pupils’ confidence

Colleagues also shared many specific ways they have developed to support learning in English, Maths and across the curriculum in Y6.

As I stated at the start I am extremely grateful to these colleagues for the generous and open way they shared their valuable professional experiences and expertise.

Assessing how far we’ve come

I was fortunate to attend a College of Teaching event on “Assessment in Practice” at Winchester University on the 6th of December. For me the event was fairly affirming as many aspects resonated with actions we have taken to move our thinking, understanding and practice on.


Key points from theory

Assessment comes from the Latin word ‘Assidere’: which means to sit alongside. This is common practice in our Year R and Year 1 classes, but has also become a much more regular feature of lessons across the school in the past few years. Through dialogue, mainly listening we get to know our learners better as learners.

the learning, not be focused on ‘weighing the pig’. The vast majority of our assessment is focused on knowing our learners better and therefore more purposefully using the information to plan future learning.

Responsive teaching, changing, adapting, re-orgainsing, re-pacing lessons and learning ‘in the moment’. I am very proud of the number of times our staff change and adapt during lessons. For a number of years we haven’t heard “but that wasn’t on my lesson plan”.



Julie Bray from St John the Baptist, Andover

Julie is the headteacher, and spoke about the journey their staff had been on to develop their assessment processes. (Cornerstone points in purple font).

    • Embed learning deeply (not rushing through content). At Cornerstone we have certainly developed ways of deliberate and varied practice to ensure learners really understand rather than just superficially remember in the short term.
    • Informs future planning in real time.
    • Staff ownership of the assessment system (the school have created it). We have created our own system focused on the National Curriculum. Staff have created and we annually review our criteria for judgements.
    • Lower and Higher Attainers (not abilities). At different points on their learning journey. We have worked hard to remove the word ‘ability’ from our spoken language and our thinking, although this is often challenging.
    • Teachers produce assessment information once. Our teachers input their ongoing teacher assessments of learners security and depth of understanding / learning onto our Assessment Journeys. They are not asked to analyse this any further than to use it to adapt their planning and grouping. As headteacher I undertake the number crunching elements of data analysis.
    • Teachers know the pupils as learners in detail. This is evident on a daily basis, and also during our Pupil Achievement Meetings.
    • Use SOLO to plan for and assess ‘depth of learning’. We produce SOLO Learning Journeys for maths, which both staff and learners use to assess their progress
    • Investigate those not on track and discuss mini-plan of actions. We produce Action Plans through discussions in November, February and April. These are focused on vulnerable groups and those learners not on track.

So in conclusion, I am proud of how far we have come at Cornerstone (and as a profession) in our understanding and use of assessment. I think it is far more focused than it has been previously on the learners, their strengths, next steps and informing actions to support those next steps.

Primary Assessment Journeys

Feedback policy May 2017

Feedback TLT 17

SOLO Maths Learning Journeys

Feedback presentation

I was very pleased to invited to #TLT17 at Southampton University on 7 October 2017, to run a workshop explaining how our school have developed and use our Feedback policy. The aim I shared was to maximise learning for the pupils whilst minimising the workload for the teachers.

Our first version came in the autumn term of 2014 (the term when the new National Curriculum came in and NC levels went out). I shared some summaries of research about the value of Feedback, and as a staff team we designed our Feedback policy.

We used this throughout this and the next year, and it seemed to work fairly well. However when the DfE Workload Groups produced their reports we evaluated our policy and practice to analyse whether it was meaningful, manageable and motivating.

During 2016-2017 we were extremely fortunate to have the wonderful Natasha Jones undertake her NPQH project with us. Working with the staff in two groups she helped us reflect on the principles and purposes of feedback and what we wanted it to achieve.

Also in this year I was involved in a Hampshire run project with colleagues from a number of other schools. We visited each others schools and observed and analysed their Feedback policy and practice. It was a reassuring process, as we had many similar elements of practice.

However we plan to continue to be self-critical and reflect on effectiveness and impact of our policy.

Below is the presentation I shared at #TLT17 and a copy of our current Feedback policy.

Feedback TLT 17

Feedback policy May 2017 


Foundation Assessment Journeys

From the start I need to acknowledge and thank some amazing colleagues who worked incredibly hard to produce the first version of this document and then incredibly generously shared it with so many schools within our local area.

Thank you: VikkiBaker-Gunnill, WarrenBeadell, AliClarke, Zoe Evans, Jen Johnson, Clare Slowther and Steve Summerton.

I would also like to thank the staff at Cornerstone CE Primary who have then spent time reviewing the document and adapting it for our use in school.

When you first look at it you might be slightly put off by the number of objectives for each subject in each year group. I encouraged our staff to slim down these objectives, but they said they would rather keep them, as it was helpful for pitching the learning and seeing the progression over year groups.

Staff are able to assess up to about half of the objectives, although less is fine. At the end of the year they all complete the “EYE 1 2 3” and the “Effort / Attitude” columns. This is an overall for each child for the whole year. These overall numbers are the grades that then go on the end of year report for parents. These overall grades are also then used by Subject Leaders to track standards in their subject (the Excel spreadsheet produces the percentages for Subject Leaders).

The 1, 2 and 3 criteria has been created by us as a staff team and is reviewed each year. It is also the same criteria we use for English and Maths.

The aim is to make it helpful for teachers with planning, with a minimum of time recording numbers, and quick and useful for Subject Leaders.

Please feel free to adapt, use or ignore as you wish.

Foundation Assessment Journeys master


Primary Assessment consultation summary

This is a pure ‘cut and paste’ of what I think are the main points from the DfE consultation. I have produced this to share with our staff and governors. If it is of use to you please feel free to share it.


Primary Assessment Government consultation                                  

Teachers and school leaders have a fundamental role to play so that every child can fulfil their potential. Acquiring a good grasp of the basics of English and mathematics, as part of a rich and varied curriculum, is critical for a child’s future success.

A lot of change in primary schools in recent years, as we have worked together to raise standards, and I recognise that teachers and headteachers are still adapting to these changes.

No new national tests or assessments before the 2018-2019 academic year.

It is vital that we establish a settled, trusted primary assessment system.

Want a system that measures the progress that children make throughout their time at primary school fairly and accurately, a system that recognises teachers’ professionalism in assessing their pupils, and a system which does not impose a disproportionate burden.


Current system: KS1 & KS2

Statutory assessment plays an important role in ensuring that every child is supported to leave primary school prepared to succeed.

The Government should rightly set a clear expected standard that is ambitious.

It is important that we have an accountability system which is fair, inclusive, and properly reflects the work done by teachers to ensure that all children fulfil their potential, including those with additional needs.

We are clear that no single piece of data will determine any decision on intervention, in 2016 or beyond. Ofsted, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, governors and parents should look at a range of data, alongside the school’s broader context and performance history, rather than focusing on one piece of information alone.

Statutory assessment sits alongside a number of other important factors, including the need to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, and the wider pupil experience of attending primary school.

Statutory assessment at primary school is about measuring school performance, holding schools to account for the work they do with their pupils and identifying where pupils require more support, so that this can be provided. Primary assessment should not be about putting pressure on children.


Principles & Purposes

Our assessment system should provide rigorous, reliable and trusted data that can be used, as part of a broader range of information, to measure accurately and hold schools to account for the progress they make with their pupils.

It provides information about how pupils are performing in relation to other pupils nationally, helps teachers to understand national expectations and enables parents, teachers and schools to benchmark their school’s progress against other schools locally and nationally.

Enables the government to hold schools to account for the work they do with their pupils, to monitor national standards and to measure the impact of education policy over time.

A starting point for Ofsted’s discussions with schools.

Evidence shows that an assessment system which balances school autonomy with strong external accountability makes a positive difference to pupil achievement.



Preparing children to succeed at school

A strong approach in the early years ensures that all children have a solid foundation from which to progress.

At the national level, EYFSP data enables the government to evaluate the impact of our investment in the early years on children’s outcomes at age 5.

The EYFSP will remain in place for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Ensure that assessment in reception is reliable and trusted, and that it both demonstrates how children have developed during their early years, and provides a measure of school readiness.

Broadening a child’s vocabulary is crucial for their development. Other factors such as self-regulation can have an important influence on successful early education, including pre-reading skills and early mathematics, and could be given more weight in an improved EYFSP.

We are also aware of challenges around reliability of data obtained from the EYFSP. (year-on-year improvements)

Look at how to further reduce the workload burden on teachers… (and) consider how moderation of EYFSP results could be streamlined and improved.

Evidence does not need to be formally recorded or documented…paperwork should be kept to a minimum.


The best starting point for measuring progress

Any progress measure needs a reliable baseline, a starting point from which progress will be calculated. Ideally, that baseline should be established as early as possible.

Assessment needs to be a reliable indicator of pupils’ attainment and strongly correlate with their attainment in statutory KS2 assessments in English reading, writing and mathematics. Any baseline assessment must be appropriate and suitable for pupils, and avoid creating unnecessary burdens or perverse incentives for schools.

How to ensure the most appropriate baseline?

The point at which the baseline assessment should be taken?


Option 1: Move the starting point to Year R

There is a strong case for measuring progress from Reception to the end of year 6. We recognise that any new baseline would need careful consideration.

It is possible to create an assessment of reception age children which is suitable for that age group, sufficiently granular and well correlated with later outcomes.

Any new assessment would be designed to cover the material which we would already expect children to be familiar with at that stage…so would not result in changes to teaching practice.

Both a continuing EYFSP and a new baseline assessment in reception would therefore cover literacy and numeracy elements. We would make sure that a new baseline in reception complemented and aligned with the EYFSP.

Data from a baseline assessment could be published at national level for transparency, but we would not do so at school level. Nor would school-level data be shared with regional schools commissioners, local authorities or Ofsted.

This could be after pupils have been given enough time to settle into primary school and become accustomed to their new routines, for example at the beginning of the second half term.


Option 2: An improved KS1 baseline

Some schools and assessment experts argue that incentives have now been created for schools to deflate results at key stage 1 to demonstrate greater progress by key stage 2. To help address these concerns, it would be necessary to significantly increase moderation of teacher assessment at key stage 1.

A greater number (more than 3) of teacher assessment categories would provide a more robust and effective measure.

An alternative approach would be to collect the data from the statutory tests which pupils already sit at the end of year 2. This would provide a robust baseline without adding to teachers’ workload.

However, schools have told us previously that collecting this test data could unnecessarily raise the stakes of the tests for pupils. It is not our intention to increase the stakes of assessment, so we do not see collecting key stage 1 test data as the right long-term solution.


Interim years

Any new baseline assessment would not be in place before the 2019-2020 academic year…Up until this point, we propose continuing to use key stage 1 teacher assessment data as the baseline for the cohorts of pupils who will be completing primary school before that time.

There is the option of looking at ways of making the key stage 1 data more reliable and reducing workload in the 2018 to 2019, 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 academic years, for example by collecting key stage 1 test data to use solely as the baseline for progress measures.

However as this might unnecessarily raise the stakes of these tests we propose that we continue to use key stage 1 teacher assessment data as the baseline for measuring progress in the interim years.


The role of KS1 statutory assessments

Moving to an assessment system where, for school accountability, the progress measure is based on assessments of pupils in reception and the end of year 6, means that we would no longer need to use key stage 1 assessments as a baseline. As a result, we could remove the obligation for schools to assess pupils against statutory teacher assessment frameworks at the end of key stage 1.

We propose, therefore, making end-of-key stage 1 assessments – both teacher assessment frameworks and national curriculum tests – in English reading, English writing, mathematics and science non-statutory for all-through primary schools11 once a new baseline in reception has become fully established.

There is still value in being able to benchmark pupil performance against national standards at this point.

We would continue to expect schools to provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s performance at the end of KS1, as the midway point in primary school.


Monitoring national standards at KS1

If KS1 assessment becomes non-statutory to provide an ongoing picture of national standards we would intend to sample key stage 1 assessment data from a small proportion of schools. This data would be anonymised and would not be used for school accountability purposes.


School types and assessment

The introduction of a new assessment in reception as a baseline for measuring progress would have an impact on infant, junior and middle schools…we will need to reconsider the best accountability arrangements for these types of school.

These schools would be judged on a different basis from all-through primary schools and so would need to be compared against each other, rather than all other schools with KS2 provision.

The alternative would be to hold infant and junior schools to account using a single reception to key stage 2 progress measure, encouraging greater collaboration between infant and junior schools.

We want our statutory assessment system to strike a balance between enabling national standards to be maintained whilst limiting the burdens on teachers and children.


Collection of teacher assessment data at the end of KS2

Ongoing classroom teacher assessment is a vital part of teaching, and critical to discussions with parents. However should we continue to require statutory, summative, teacher assessment in key stage 2 English reading and mathematics, when we use only test data for headline attainment and progress measures in these subjects?

We would continue to collect teacher assessment data in science and English writing.


KS1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test

We propose that the key stage 1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test should remain non-statutory for schools to administer beyond the 2016-2017 academic year.


Multiplication tables check

We plan to introduce a national multiplication tables check from the 2018-2019 academic year.

Likely to be taken online.

This check would not be designed as a school accountability measure.

Results will only be published at a national and local authority level. The data will not be used to trigger inspection or intervention.

End of Y4? During Y5? During Y6?


Improving end of KS statutory teacher assessment

We would also like to consider whether there are additional opportunities to reduce burdens for schools and pupils by improving the administration of statutory assessments in primary schools.

Discussed the possibility of no longer collecting statutory teacher assessment data where it is not used in headline progress and attainment measures.

The interim teacher assessment frameworks were designed to assess whether pupils have a firm grounding in the national curriculum by requiring teachers to demonstrate that pupils can meet every ‘pupil can’ statement. This approach aims to achieve greater consistency in the judgements made by teachers and to avoid pupils moving on in their education with significant and limiting gaps.

We believe that this approach (Interim Frameworks) was broadly appropriate for English reading, mathematics and science at key stages 1 and 2. We will maintain this approach for these subjects in future years. However, we plan to review the ‘pupil can’ statements within these frameworks.



The 2011 Bew Review of key stage 2 assessment emphasised, English writing warrants a different approach to assessment, rather than the application of a test.

The interim frameworks do not provide sufficient flexibility for teachers to reach judgements which are representative of pupils’ overall ability in this subject.

Assessment should take account of both the creative and technical aspects of good writing.

Whilst the requirement to provide robust supporting evidence would continue, we would like to consider whether there are ways in which we can afford greater flexibility for teachers in making their judgements within the framework for writing.

Retain a teacher assessment framework to support assessment of writing, but instead of adhering rigidly to the ‘secure fit’ model we should move to a ‘best fit’ approach which places greater weight on the judgement of teachers.

Work with the profession to review the ‘pupil can’ statements.


Teaching, Learning and Assessment morning

I am running a free morning of CPD for local primary teachers on Friday 27 January 2017. It is taking place at Cornerstone CE Primary school (PO15 7JH) in Hampshire (Junction 9 off the M27).

I will be sharing our journey so far in developing our Teaching and Learning practice and policy, and linked Assessment procedures (since September 2014). Colleagues attending will hopefully be sharing their ideas, the practice in their classroom and schools, and hopefully we will all go away with more ideas and greater clarity.

I have attached a copy of the presentation below, but undoubtedly the professional dialogue will be the most valuable aspect of the morning.

If you live or work locally and would be interested in joining us, you would be very welcome.

Please contact the school on 01489 660750 or to book a place.

Teaching Learning Assessment 27.1.2017


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