Rationale and intent for assessment
Assessment at Wells Primary School is integral to pupils’ progress in learning because it informs teachers’ planning and their implementation of the curriculum. Assessment and curriculum are therefore inextricably linked. Assessment helps us to evaluate whether our curriculum is fit for purpose and whether our implementation and teaching of the curriculum has been effective.
Useful assessment helps us to identify children who may need additional support or those who require a more appropriate level of challenge. Assessment helps us to identify gaps in learning for individuals or groups of children or dips or acceleration in children’s usual levels of progress. It enables teachers to inform parents and carers about their children’s attainment and progress.
There is an expectation at our school that the teachers and senior leaders have a superior knowledge about the children in their care. This includes information about pupils’ learning behaviour and any barriers to learning, as well as their attainment, progress and outcomes. We believe that this superior knowledge about our pupils enables us to enhance their attainment and progress.
Tracking of pupil attainment and progress, informed by rigorous but meaningful assessment, enables us to ensure that all children can be targeted to achieve their best; it helps us to ensure that pupils with SEND and those who are disadvantaged are given the best opportunities to succeed; it helps us to monitor whole-school performance.
Assessment in all its forms plays a key role in improving our knowledge base of our pupils, but only if it is accurate. For it to be accurate and therefore meaningful, it must be manageable for teachers. The teacher who knows a child well, who can describe their achievement and learning in detail and who knows ‘what makes them tick’ is better placed to help them achieve than the teacher who has to bring out an assessment file to speak knowledgeably about that child.
Teachers who know and care about their pupils, who accurately assess their knowledge and skills using a variety of strategies, are well placed to encourage and motivate them. We believe that the personalised approach to assessment at Wells Primary School facilitates high attainment and progress.
The main aims for assessment are therefore that it is: informative, diagnostic, evaluative, accurate and purposeful. It should not cause stress to pupils or staff, be onerous or time wasting.
The two-year curriculum cycle and assessment phase
Wells has created a two-year curriculum cycle to accommodate the needs of children in a 1.5 entry school. Our assessment is designed to complement this curriculum cycle.
Children are organised into three classes across two year groups. They are organised by age with one mixed-age class. For example, in the Year 1/2 Phase, the older Year 2 children are grouped in one class, the younger Year 1 children are grouped in another and in the third class, the older Year 1 children are taught with the younger Year 2 children. In practice, children are grouped within a narrower age band than would be the case in a school with only one year group in the class.
This is a tried and tested system which has proven very successful for all learners. The two-year cycle means that some children will study the Vikings in Year 5 and others will study this unit of work when they are in Year 6. We always have the highest aspirations for all learners, teaching to the ability of the children rather than being constrained by age-related objectives. Teachers plan in phases and adapt the learning for their particular class. They may adapt the success criteria for a particular class or pitch the exposition at a slightly higher or lower level. Within all classes though, there are children working at different levels of attainment and all needs have to be catered for.
Progression is monitored across the phase during book scrutiny, lesson drop-ins or when speaking to the children. Our move to more specialist teaching (where one teacher may teach a subject to all three classes) enables that teacher to drive the learning across the phase, ensuring progression and maintaining the highest aspirations for all learners.
Teachers assess, therefore, with not only the year group but also the phase group in mind. Cross-phase moderation ensures that assessment is accurate for a child’s particular year group.
We are currently exploring the possibility of increasing our end of phase assessments to monitor how much knowledge children have retained over a two-year period.
Implementation of assessment
We use three broad types of assessment across the school
- In-school formative assessment
- In-school summative assessment
- National standardised assessments
In-school formative assessment
This is the on-going daily process whereby the staff at Wells accumulate knowledge about pupils’ progress and attainment.
This may be informed by:
- children’s conversations with each other and with the teacher;
- class discussions;
- children’s responses to direct questions;
- pupils’ work in its wide variety of forms - e.g. a piece of artwork; a hot-seating activity; a piece of written work; a poetry performance; answers in maths.
- evidence gathered through marking;
- pupils’ self-assessment;
- pupils’ responses to feedback (either written or verbal).
Formative assessment strategies may be used by several members of staff, including teaching assistants, senior leaders including the SENDco, as well as by the class teacher, subject specialist teacher, and through parental feedback.
Formative assessment helps teachers to understand whether a child has grasped a concept or understood the knowledge taught. Whether a child has retained prior knowledge can also be assessed through formative assessment.
Effective formative assessment enables our pupils to measure their knowledge and understanding against learning objectives and helps them to identify where and how they can improve their learning. Regular teacher feedback and self-review helps children to develop their own evaluative skills, to accept and respond to constructive feedback and to know that we learn from our mistakes. Formative assessment helps children to understand that learning is the journey of a lifetime.
At the front of their exercise books, the main learning objectives for a unit of work are listed together with a column for teacher assessment against the objectives. Teachers and children are able to see at a glance how they are progressing against the objectives. During book scrutiny, senior leaders are able to monitor and check the accuracy of the assessment
Effective formative assessment helps parents and carers to understand how they can help their child. For example, we would expect a teacher to provide prompt feedback to a parent/carer about a child’s incorrect letter formation so that a child can develop their letter formation more quickly through a joint effort at school and at home.
In-school summative assessment
Formative assessment helps teachers to understand whether a child has grasped a concept or understood the knowledge taught in a lesson or series of lessons. Summative assessments can help us to establish whether a child has retained that knowledge over time or can remember how to apply taught skills; summative assessments can help us understand how much a child can do independently.
These include: teacher’s regular phonics assessments in Early Years and Key Stage 1; end of term reviews in Science and the foundation subjects through mini quizzes or a collection of questions; termly assessment papers for Reading, Maths, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation (SPAG) and termly written assessment pieces. These types of assessment are carried out independently by the child.
Teachers are expected to evaluate the learning at the end of a unit of work or term to assess the impact of their own teaching as well as to measure the outcomes for the child.
Outcomes of In-school summative assessments are reported termly to school leaders so that they can monitor the performance of different cohorts. Teachers provide reports as to whether children are:
- Working towards the expected level of attainment
- Working at the expected level of attainment
- Working at greater depth within the expected level of attainment
Where test data is used for end of term summative assessments, teachers may make their own informed judgement if they deem that a child’s test data is vastly different to their teacher assessment.
Monitoring and moderation by senior leaders ensures that there is consistency in assessment across classes and year groups. It is particularly important that we monitor the outcomes across year groups, rather than classes, so that we can assess the effectiveness of our two-year curriculum.
The school participates in all statutory assessments including the Early Years Baseline Assessment; the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check, the end of Key Stage 1 assessments; the Year 4 Multiplication Tables Check and the Year 6 Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs).
National statutory assessments are used by school leaders, including governors, to:
- monitor the performance of school cohorts and identify where interventions may be needed;
- identify any areas for development or strengths in school performance;
- identify how disadvantaged pupils at Wells are performing against national standards as well as compared with their peers;
- identify how different groups of pupils are performing against national data;
- compare overall school standards with national standards.
The headteacher and deputy head analyse school performance data and use it to inform their school development priorities. The head teacher presents governors with a full set of data and an analysis of outcomes in the autumn term.
Outcomes of national assessments are reported to parents and carers with national comparisons where available so that they are able to understand how their child is performing in comparison to pupils nationally.
Where children are working significantly below the level of the national assessments, the SENDco will inform parents and carers that it would not be in the best interests of the child to take the assessments. Where it is agreed that children should not sit the assessments, children may be disapplied. Instead, pupils will be assessed using the Engagement Model (see Inclusion section below).
Teachers report summative data once per term as described above. Data is recorded on Integris. Ongoing formative assessment is recorded in pupils’ exercise books against a manageable set list of objectives. The recording of data has been streamlined in recent years to make it less time-consuming for staff.
Reporting to parents and carers
The school keeps parents and carers up to date with their children’s attainment and progress. Consultation meetings are held twice a year and a comprehensive annual report is sent to parents in the summer term. The annual report records details of a child’s achievements in all areas of the curriculum and provides outcomes of summative assessments. The report also contains information about the child’s learning behaviours and any particular strengths or areas for development. The pupil’s attendance record is also reported with the number of possible attendance sessions and the number of authorised and unauthorised absences.
Parents/ carers may request to see the teacher in between meetings if they have concerns about a child’s progress and, similarly, teachers may ask to see a parent/carer if a child is struggling in any way. We believe that a strong partnership between parents/ carers and the school is essential to maximise a child’s learning potential.
Reading records are sent home every day and teachers and parents/carers are expected to comment on the children’s reading progress on a weekly basis.
The principles of assessment apply to all pupils, including those with special educational needs. We have high expectations for all children and want all pupils to achieve and make good progress relative to their starting points.
The type of assessment and how it is implemented may be adjusted where appropriate to meet the needs of children with SEND. Children may be given extra time for example, or their assessments may be broken down into shorter chunks; their answers may be scribed or they may use a laptop to record their answers; they may demonstrate their learning in a way that is more suitable for their attainment level or they may only complete part of an assessment. The SENDco assists teachers in planning assessment for pupils with SEND. The focus is on what pupils can do and what they have achieved rather than on what they have yet to accomplish.
Where children are working below the standard of the national curriculum assessments and not engaged in subject specific study at Key stage 1 and 2, teachers use The Engagement Model to assess pupils’ learning. The Engagement Model has five areas of engagement: exploration; realisation; anticipation; persistence and initiation.
Early identification of pupils’ special educational needs is essential to provide appropriate support and intervention. Referral to the local authority’s SEaTSS team (Specialist Education Training and Support Service) may be necessary to access diagnostic assessments for individual pupils. Parental consent is necessary before referrals can be made.
As part of teachers’ continual professional development, training in assessment forms part of the school’s drive for excellence in teaching and learning. New pedagogy is discussed and practice is constantly evaluated and improved.
Early Career Teachers are supported in their development of assessment practice during the course of their induction. Skill and expertise in assessment develops over time and therefore moderation of ECT assessments is particularly important.
Impact of effective assessment
- All children achieve well from their relative starting points;
- Children with additional needs receive timely support;
- Children develop positive learning behaviours, including: a desire to excel; an independent attitude; a willingness to learn from mistakes; the ability to respond to feedback; the ability to evaluate their own work and the ability to provide constructive feedback to their peers; the patience to edit and improve their work;
- Staff develop a thorough knowledge of their pupils’ learning behaviour and attainment and know how best to help them;
- Lessons are pitched accurately and adjusted to take into account any misconceptions, areas for further development or accelerated learning;
- Parents and carers have a consistently accurate understanding of their child’s learning and progress;
- School leaders have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development.