How do we assess learning at Bradley Barton Primary School?
We believe that knowing what each child has achieved and what their next steps are is crucial to helping them to succeed. In order to know this, we regularly assess the children. This happens in different ways.
- Through questioning and discussion, teachers and support staff find out what children know each lesson.
- High quality written and oral feedback help both the teachers to know how the children are doing and the children to understand their own learning and what their next steps are.
- Assessments such as benchmarking which find out which books children should be reading.
- More formal assessments such as optional SATs tests and similar formal tests .
- Statutory assessments such as KS2 SAT tests at the end of Year 6, use of SATs materials at end of KS1and the phonic screening test in Year 1.
- Teachers regularly meet together to make sure their assessments are accurately moderated and helpful to the children. This moderation also takes place with colleagues from other local schools to ensure consistency. As a result of assessment, teachers are able to adapt their lessons, pupil activities, homework and the curriculum to make sure they are fully meeting the needs of the children. Additional interventions would be put in place for any specific needs identified.
Assessment for Learning
The school has a clear policy for assessment for learning, using the “Tickled Pink” and “Green for Growth” system. To support children in making progress and being successful with their learning, all teachers use success criteria in their teaching and feedback to pupils according to the success criteria using the appropriate coloured highlighting. Success criteria may be visual for those children who cannot access the written criteria. Teachers amend lessons and teaching sequences according to children's needs, for example, using daily planning in Maths or adjusting texts in English so they feature the necessary grammar or punctuation which children need to learn.
Assessing Without Levels
The DfE announced last year that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels, and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. We have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils, and we have had meetings with representatives with responsibility for data tracking from all Newton Abbot Schools. We have been trialing a system which is similar to the system used in the Early Years and Foundation Stage. This was to take the end of year expectations for each year group and to split this into 3 categories as follows:
- Emerging— Yet to be secure in the end of year expectations.
- Expected—Secure in the majority of the end of year expectations.
- Exceeding (Embedding)—secure in almost all or all the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.
Under the old levels system, children who were exceeding might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the exceeding bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. They are calling this phase of learning ‘Mastery and Depth’. Only exceptional children will move into working towards the end of year expectations from the year above. Similarly, children who are unlikely to be emerging at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below. So how will this look at the end of each Key Stage from 2015?
Lots of you may have heard of the expression ‘School Ready’ talked about by the DfE, hence the introduction and provision of increased nursery places. This is where education providers and schools ALONG WITH parents, will continue to build upon your child’s social awareness, self and health care and language skills. The DfE refers to “school readiness” as supporting children to be ready for the opportunities available to them in Year One. Children will leave foundation stage having been assessed as either working within the emerging, expected or exceeding (embedding) band of each strand of learning. It is anticipated that the majority of children will reach the assessment point of Foundation Stage within the ‘expected band’. It is important to remember however, that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. From September 2015, children will all be assessed on entry and these results will be used by school to inform and plan appropriate provision and measure progress. Children will not realize they are being assessed as the activities will be similar to other adult led activities which they enjoy daily.
Key Stage 1:
At Bradley Barton School, it is anticipated that the majority of children will reach assessment points at the end of Year 1 and Year 2 within the ‘expected bands’, a smaller number of children will reach Year 1 and Year 2 within the ‘exceeding (embedding) band’, and a small number will be Year 1 and Year 2 working within the ‘emerging band’. It may be that a minority of children with additional needs do not meet the emerging band for their Year group. We will be assigning number values to these bands only to help us track and analyse cohort and group progress.
Key Stage 2:
Lots of you may have heard of the expression ‘Secondary Ready’ as the standard children must achieve by the end of Year 6. The DfE have recently slightly distanced themselves from this phrase and are now talking about children reaching the assessment point of ‘Year 6 expected’. Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be Year 6 ‘exceeding’ and some children who are Year 6 ‘emerging’.
There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. Year 4/5 embedding/expected/emerging. As with Key Stage 1, we will be assigning number values to these bands only to help us track and analyse cohort and group progress for evaluation purposes (see below).
Assessing Without Levels
After investigating many different Assessment & Tracking systems, we have decided to use a continue to use our School Pupil Tracker Online system to record our data, which is used by lots of primary schools, including most Devon Primary Schools. How we give an end of year assessment is going to be almost identical to the description of assessing without levels above, but some of the language maybe slightly different and we are trialling the use of points scores to represent their progress towards the end of year objectives, given rather than levels.
The biggest difference is how we will talk to you about how your child is progressing during the year. With the old National Curriculum levels, each year children were given a target for the end of the year, and during the year we would tell you what National Curriculum level your child was at.
For example: Prior to this year, a child could finish Year 3 with a level 3a, and then in Year 4 would have a target of at least 4b for the end of the year. At Parent’s/Carers Evenings throughout the year you may be told that they have moved to a 4c and then on to a 4b.
We could use the levels system this way because there was no correlation between a level and a child’s year group, and this can be seen in the way that in a Year 6 class there could be a range of levels, from level 2 to a level 6. However, the new National Curriculum sets out expectations for each year group and children will be assessed against those every year, so a child in Year 4 will always be judged in the first instance against the expectations for the end of Year 4.
So how will the process in school work? In each Autumn term, by October/November the teachers will have had an opportunity to assess how the children are learning. At the start of each year group, every child will be emerging/low as they are being judged against the End of Year statements for the year they have just entered. By using their professional knowledge, the knowledge shared by previous classteacher and ongoing formative judgement, your child’s teacher will know what your child can already do and what they think he/she can achieve. They will then give a forecast as to where they think they will be by the end of the Year. So, for example, children in Year 3 could be given a forecast of 3Emerging, 3Expected OR 3Exceeding (Embedding). They will also be able to share with you what particular areas your child needs to devlop to meet their end of year target position.
As the New National Curriculum expectations are so much more rigorous, only very exceptional children will have a forecast from a higher or lower year group. As far as we are currently aware Year 6 Exceeding (Embedding) (High) is likely to be the highest grading for the end of Key Stage 2. There will still be a system of testing pupils in Reading, Maths, Grammar and spelling at the end of the year. Examples of these new very challenging tests have just been published. This is a new system for all primary schools, and we will all be developing our learning and understanding together, but will always have maximising children’s progress at the heart of what we do .
During the year, when we have conversations with you about your child’s progress, you won’t be given an actual definitive position of where they are on this scale. Instead we will share with you whether your child is on track to meet their end of year target and what we can both do to support them in meeting it. It may well be that they are above or below where they need to be, in which case their end of year target may be adjusted.
National expectations for our children have changed. As the New Curriculum is so much more challenging, a child who was at age related expectations at the end of year 2, e.g. a 2B, may not necessarily be on track to achieve a Year3 Expected result, this will not necessarily mean your child is not making progress. Similarly a child who was above age related expectations in Year 2 e.g. a Level 3, may not be on track to be year 3 exceeding pupil. It is important we understand what the changes mean for our children and ensure we are supportive in helping them achieve the very highest possible standards, as always.
We hope that you find this guide useful to help you understand why assessment has changed and how assessment has changed. As usual, please contact your child’s teacher should you have any queries and speak to Mr Wootton if you have any assessment related questions.