Barnes Primary School Principles for Assessment
At our school, assessment means continually evaluating children’s knowledge, skills and understanding, establishing what children can do and what their next learning steps should be. Assessment is at the heart of the learning process. It provides valuable evidence to guide and improve teaching and learning. Alongside this, it offers an opportunity for children to demonstrate and review their progress. It is an integral part of our relentlessly ambitious, high expectations culture.
We are committed to:
- seeking and interpreting evidence for use by children and their teachers to decide where learners currently are in their learning, where they need to go next and how best to get there.
- using assessment, day-to-day, in the classroom to raise children’s achievement and their aspirations. We believe that pupils will improve most if they understand the aim of their learning, where they are in relation to this aim and how they can achieve the aim (or close the gap in their knowledge).
- providing children with clear, precise and easily comprehensible feedback, in oral and written forms, that will support their learning. We will always expect children to engage with this feedback and frequently we will ask them to respond to it. The quality and value of teachers’ feedback will be evaluated by how great an impact it has on pupils’ future progress.
- involving children at all times in an ongoing self-improvement process and assisting them to understand that the continual quest to improve oneself is a crucial life skill. Assessment feedback should inspire ever greater effort and a belief that, through commitment, hard work and practice more can be achieved.
- the regular review of what has been learnt by children being built into our lesson structure and our programmes of study.
- assessment drawing upon a wide range of evidence that establishes a full picture of what a child can do.
- continually tracking the performance of children and using this information in four ways:
– to ensure that all children are suitably challenged
– to provide additional challenge for those who are ready for this
– to provide additional learning support for those who are currently finding learning more difficult
– to ensure that every child really does matter and nobody is ever overlooked.
- giving reliable, meaningful and regular information to parents about how their child is performing and how our school is performing. At all times this information will be clear, transparent and easily understood. It will be communicated in a format that parents can understand and it should assist them in supporting their child’s future learning.
- avoiding any tendency to judge, label or categorise children, but instead showing a never ending commitment to the notion that all children can and will succeed. For this reason we will not use self-fulfilling terminology like ‘more able and ‘less able’. In all we do and say we will communicate the message to children that they can and will succeed.
- the regular moderation of assessment judgements by professionals working within and beyond our school being used as a mechanism for refining the accuracy of those judgements.
- avoiding the tendency to continually test children, as we know that testing itself does not improve children’s performance.
- assessment providing information that is of value and justifies the time teachers spend on it.
Key Stages 1 and 2
In September 2014, a revised primary curriculum was introduced. From September 2015, a new assessment system was introduced at our school. The assessment levels which were used for many years were phased out. One of the reasons for this is that they provided a summary of performance that missed the richness of a more rounded description of pupil achievement. In addition, it wasn’t always clear to parents what the levels told them about what their child could do and what their child needed to do next. The move to a different system was managed carefully, over a period of time. Ideas were piloted and evaluated before being implemented.
The following three concise documents explain the attainment descriptors and effort grades in our assessment system.
Assessment in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In nursery and reception classes, children are continually being assessed by their teachers. The purpose is to:
- ascertain what the child can do
- consider what the child needs to learn next
- plan activities that enable the child to make progress.
Teachers use the criteria in a document called Development Matters (see link above). There are assessments at the end of the academic year when children turn 5. These are not tests for the child – the assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations. Information from these tests is used for parents, practitioners and teachers to support children’s learning and development. The 7 areas that early years learning concentrates on are:
- communication and language
- physical development
- personal, social and emotional development
- understanding of the world
- expressive arts and design
Teaching is often done through play, where the child learns about subjects and other people through play-based activities and games.
The national assessment at key points in children’s primary education are:
- A short reception baseline assessment that will sit within the assessments that teachers make of children during reception
- A phonics (sound-letter correspondence) check near the end of Year 1
- A teacher assessment at the end of Key Stage 1 in mathematics, reading and writing, informed by pupils’ scores in externally-set, but internally-marked, tests. Children’s writing assessments will be partly informed by a grammar, punctuation and spelling test. There will also be teacher assessments of pupil performance in speaking and listening and science
- An end of Y4 multiplication test to determine whether pupils can recall their times tables fluently
- National SATs tests at the end of Key Stage 2 in: mathematics; reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; along with a teacher assessment of mathematics, reading, writing and science.