With our partners at Arbor, St Paul’s has been able to develop ways of assessing that aim to have the most impact on learning and are time efficient.
It should go without saying that the most important aspect of assessment is that a child knows what they can do well and what they need to improve on.
This is reliant on a balance of core teacher support, clear marking strategies, good feedback followed by considered reflection from the pupil, and clear points in time when a child and family can reflect on how they are progressing.
How is this lived out at St Paul’s? In practical terms you will see our teachers teaching groups of learners to ensure that all learners are able to access our quality first teachers. There will be other adults in most classrooms supporting small groups or individuals (often on bespoke strategies) to ensure that they receive the right support they need to stretch them to their furthest.
Where an adult is not able to work directly with a pupil, children will receive clear marking in their books. Over the last few years the school has developed a marking code that rapidly directs children to misconceptions or strategies in how to improve. The system works well for our type of learners and has been shared with a number of local schools, including our partner schools. Below are examples of the marking codes.
Our marking then feeds into our main assessment program, a resource that we have developed with Arbor (you will be familiar with this company if you have the school’s Arbor App on your phone as you will receive our communications via the app). As a school, we are mindful that time is precious and that our ambition is to use our assessments to inform trends as well as supporting each individual pupil. Around each half term, staff will update core assessment data which is then presented to families during consultation nights (November, March & July) as an assessment sheet. These sheets detail all of the assessment statements that we are measuring for your child’s year in reading, writing, RE and maths. These are then put into each child’s book. These act as anchor points of progress throughout the year. It helps a family to understand what a child is good at (these areas will be coded green), what they could improve on (coded yellow) and what are areas to develop (coded red). We understand that parent consultation meetings are precious moments and our aim is to help focus each of these meetings on guiding your child’s journey through education. Importantly, however, if you have a concern or worry please talk to your child’s teacher. It is always best to do this as soon as possible so to avoid a small concern growing into a bigger worry. If you are unable to contact your classroom teacher at the start or end of day you can always arrange a meeting with them via the office, who would be happy to help you.
Over the last decade the school has always tried to embrace the latest technology. Digital resources not only save time but can rapidly produce reports that help leadership and teachers analyse learning trends in class. Sadly, this type of technology has lagged behind in school assessments; there are very few reliable online services that children can access, we are still very reliant on paper and pens. To address this the school are using an element of Google Classroom called Google Forms. These allow the school to create their own digital exams that can be marked and analysed as quickly as a child enters an answer. We are trialling these out for grammar, arithmetic and reasoning in Key Stage 2 with the aim sharing this resource with local schools. Our hope is that not only will save time and money it will, importantly, provide a child with immediate feedback and a the school with immediate reports so we can identify learning gaps quickly.