Pupils’ progress is closely monitored at GHF so that we can provide the best possible opportunities and most appropriate levels of support for all pupils. All assessment activities aim to ensure that our pupils are able to make excellent progress in their learning whilst taking into account the needs of individual pupils.
The aims and objectives of assessment at GHF are:
- to enable our pupils to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do in their work;
- to allow our teachers to plan work that accurately reflects the needs of each child;
- to help our pupils understand what they need to do next to improve their work;
- to provide regular information for parents that enables them to support their child’s learning;
- to contribute towards accountability data;
- and to help leaders evaluate and continually improve on the quality of provision for all pupils.
While designing our approach to assessment, we have kept in mind the problems with the previous ‘Levels’ approach in order to ensure these do not reoccur. A key principle of our assessment system is that it should inform teaching and learning and not fundamentally be a means to recording and measuring progress.
‘Assessment is a good servant but a terrible master’
Most of all, learning will come first in our approach: assessment will support it, not get in its way. Assessment will be focussed on the content of our curriculum but it will not be the driver of it. Our curriculum is driven by the aims set out in our Curriculum Policy.
Why levels have gone?
The Department for Education (DfE) wanted to stop what had been termed ‘The level Race’ where nationally children have moved through the levels quickly to achieve higher attainment. The old National Curriculum was sub-divided into levels, but these were not linked to their national curriculum year group and they were never designed to assess attainment through school. Children were achieving Level 5 and 6 at the end of Key Stage 2, but the DfE thought that, while a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test, they were not secure at that level and able to demonstrate it in different contexts. The feeling from the DfE was that the way the levels system was used failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level and, in fact, created huge gaps in their learning. This view was supported by a independent commission.
How will this affect statutory assessment?
From summer 2016 the results of national curriculum tests at the end of Key Stage 1 (Year 2) and Key Stage 2 (Year 6) are reported in the form of scaled scores.
Click here for more information about Y2 and Y6 SATs and how to support your child.
The new approach to assessment at GHF
We have a yearly timetable of summative assessment activities for Reading, Writing and Mathematics. These assessments will help staff to evaluate and plan pupils’ learning, as well as gauge the impact of teaching.
Our school assesses pupils against agreed, objective criteria focussed on the ‘big ideas’ in each curriculum area. Based on a nationally recognised model, our staff have established Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each year group. These are the aspects all staff feel are fundamental for pupils to sufficiently grasp, or master, at each stage of their learning, so that their learning is sustainable over time and can be built upon in subsequent years. There are a number of KPIs for each of reading, writing and maths for each year group but we have kept them to a minimum so that staff can focus on teaching and learning rather than spending all their time assessing.
For our school, mastery of the KPIs is the end of year expectation for all pupils because all pupils require sufficient depth in their learning. Throughout the year, and until a KPI is mastered, a pupil will be developing their knowledge, skills and understanding through the ongoing teaching programmes and we will say they are ‘emerging’ within a KPI.
It is inevitable there will be some pupils who master KPIs more quickly than others. Rather than accelerating on to new learning content, we will challenge these pupils to go deeper still in their learning and understanding until they are ‘advanced’ in a KPI. However, where appropriate, provision will be made for a particularly gifted pupil who has exceeded well beyond the expectations for his/her year group, to access further teaching content.
There will be a small proportion of pupils who, because of their specific special learning needs, are working below the expectations of other children their age. Those pupils will have a separate Pupil Passport and their targets may involve mastering KPIs from earlier year groups.
It is important that there is some evidence to help staff decide whether pupils have demonstrated sufficient competence within a KPI. There does not need to be recorded evidence for every KPI, but evidence will come from a variety of typical teaching activities such as marking pupils’ work, observations and discussions with pupils.We feel it is important to ensure there is a balance between the teachers’ ongoing informal assessments with regular testing and that includes externally marked tests, adding further rigour to the process.
As we want to get our assessment system right, it will continually be reviewed. In particular, at the end of the year we check that individual KPIs are fit for their purpose.
Please read our full Assessment Policy for further information.
Parents can download the KPIs for Reading, Writing and Mathematics for each year group below.
How does our approach compare with other schools?
We have looked at many approaches to assessment without levels and we have consulted widely with other schools, but particularly with those who we work with locally. It is likely that schools will have a different approach to assessment; however, we feel there needs to be some consistency for communication, comparison and benchmarking between them. The National Association of Headteachers had their own commission to devise materials and guidance in response to this and we used their work as a starting point for our system. Furthermore, we moderate our teacher assessment judgements and evidence with a group of schools locally to ensure that we have a similar view of expectations and can see how our pupils compare.