Changes to assessment with the new National Curriculum
With the introduction of the new National Curriculum from September 2014, assessment using the old National Curriculum achievement levels is being phased out. Pupils will continue to take statutory public examinations at the end of Key Stage 1 (Y2) and Key Stage 2 (Y6) but these will be assessed against a new system for scoring which is explained in detail in children's termly reports. Schools are free to develop their own systems for tracking progress and attainment. In common with a number of other schools nationally we have decided to adapt the Learning Ladders system which supports teachers and pupils in recording achievement and in setting targets for the next stages of learning. We believe this system offers the best option for teachers, pupils and parents: it is a simple, visual model which makes clear what has been learned and what needs to be learnt next.
In addition to this, we have spent a considerable amount of time trialing different assessment material in order to arrive at a whole school system that:
- is appropriate to each of the key stages and the age of child;
- is unobtrusive and does not detract from the day-to-day teaching;
- provides teachers and pupils with useful information in order to learn more effectively;
- provides school leaders with information to track every child's progress and to identify suitable targets for school improvement;
- helps to identify those children who might benefit from additional support.
Our commitment is to the child's learning needs and so our principle for developing assessment at Longden is to use the latest research and our own experience in order to know more about the processes a child uses in learning. Currently we use:
- termly Learning Ladders for Writing, Science, RE, Geography, History, Art and Design Technology;
- Busy Ant Maths unit tests for all pupils (weekly or every three weeks);
- termly assessment tasks to track progress in Reading, Writing and Maths;
- annual reading age tests for all pupils;
- specific standardised tests for all pupils on the learning support register (SEND).
Statutory assessment includes:
- the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (Nursery to Reception);
- Y1 Phonics screening check;
- KS1 teacher assessment (TA) in Reading, Writing, Maths and Science (Y2);
- KS2 SATs and TA in Reading, Writing, Maths and Grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS).
We are often asked by prospective parents about the school's attitude to preparing pupils for the SATs. Our answer is that we do enough preparation to enable children to best show their capabilities but not so much that the planned curriculum is interrupted. Typically this might involve Y6 pupils in two lessons per week over 6 to 8 weeks between Spring half-term and the test period in May. Y2 pupils do something similar but only over three or four weeks. This is usually sufficient for children to become familiar with the style of the tests.
Currently we are developing the use of iPad-based screening material to assess important brain functions such as working memory and attention skills. This project is due to start in Autumn 2017 in the Nursery. At the same time, Y3 and Y5 pupils are taking part in a research project with Birkbeck College, University of London, investigating the role of attention skills in learning new concepts in science and maths. The aim is to develop better knowledge of children's learning needs in order to focus support on improving brain functions crucial to literacy and numeracy skills. This project is based on research into the neuro-scientific links between socio-economic deprivation and poor school performance.
Information about children's progress is shared with parents and carers as follows:
- day-to-day achievements for all pupils are celebrated through the school's messaging service, ClassDojo. Most parents and carers choose to receive these instantly via a smartphone app or by email. Please contact the school office if you are not currently in receipt of these messages;
- progress in reading, writing, maths and topic projects for Y1 to Y6 is shared through the paper-based reports sent home at the end of each term. The summer report also includes a personal and social development report for the whole year together with the results of any statutory assessments;
- progress in Nursery is shared through the children's individual learning journey books which travel between school and home;
- achievement at the end of EYFS is shared through the EYFS profile at the end of Reception.
There are numerous opportunities to discuss your child's progress:
- informally with teaching staff at the start or end of day;
- at the Autumn term settling-in evening;
- formally at the Spring term progress and target review evening;
- at the Summer term Open Evening where the work of the year is available for parents and carers and children to review.
The headteacher is also available, informally or by appointment, to talk about progress. The annual Open Meeting (May) is also a valuable opportunity for parents and carers to discuss with the headteacher various aspects of the management of the school, including assessment and reporting.