Assessment is a continuous and integral part of teaching and learning. It is at the heart of the process of promoting children’s learning. It is the means by which each child’s progress is monitored and measured. Regular assessments are made of children’s work in order to establish the level of attainment and to inform future planning. Formative assessment is used to guide the progress of individual children. It involves identifying each child’s progress in each area of the curriculum, determining what each child has learned and what therefore should be the next stage in his/her learning. On a daily basis staff annotate planning to help this process and pre and post teaching is in place to address misconceptions immediately.
We believe that effective practice in assessment, target setting and pupil tracking are fundamental to good teaching and learning for children from the Foundation Stage through to Year 6. To do this in our school, we undertake two different but complementary types of assessment: assessment for learning (formative assessment) and assessment of learning (summative assessment).
Assessment is most effective when children are fully involved. At the Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation, assessment procedures engage children; they do not happen to children. High quality marking and feedback ensures that children continually receive systematic next steps for improvement, meaning that progress is maximized because of the impact that this has upon learning.
“Assessment for learning is the single most powerful tool we have for both raising standards and empowering lifelong learning.”
Commissioners Assessment Reform Group 2015.
When assessment is thorough, lesson delivery and learning objectives are precise. We use pre learning assessment tasks to further ensure that the pitch and challenge is right for each child. Flexible groupings and a ‘Growth Mindset’ philosophy underpin our assessment procedures. Intelligence is not fixed and therefore through this pre assessment and flexible group approach we can maximise progress for all children. Ultimately, assessment is fundamental to ensuring pupil progress and achievement for all.
This is the essence of effective teaching and the key to outstanding learning; it is embedded in everyday classroom practice through feedback and marking.Feedback to pupils about their own progress is achieved through discussion and the marking of work. This is in line with the Federation’s marking and feedback policy. We believe that effective marking :
- help children understand how to improve and comments aim to be positive and constructive;
- is often done while a task is being carried out through discussion between child and teacher;
- of written work is used sensitively and with discretion so that a child can understand and act upon a limited number of corrections at one time. This will vary according to the age, ability and task.
Other effective formative assessment strategies include:
- Target setting – sharing learning objectives and success criteria with children, and reviewing them afterwards to evaluate the learning
- Questioning strategies – allowing thinking time and using talk partners, targeting questions or using ‘no hands up’ approaches
- Observation – of both teacher-directed and child-initiated activities, seeing how well the children apply their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts
- Reviewing learning – reviewing targets and encouraging self- and peer-assessment, to refocus and extend and deepen the learning
- Self-Assessment – focusing on what has been learnt and success against targets, involving children in identifying their next steps
- Peer Assessment – including response partners and peer marking, identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement.
These strategies all help to provide insights into pupils’ current understanding and their misconceptions, and allow the teacher to tailor their teaching more effectively to the needs of the class and of specific groups and individuals within it. They make the steps of the learning journey explicit to the children and involve them directly in the assessment process. We consider pupils developing their ability to assess their own work and plan for improvement to be a vital aspect of becoming a successful and lifelong learner.
Teachers use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track how pupils are achieving over time. We currently have KPIs in reading, writing and mathematics and these can be found in children’s books or reading files and also on our school website. Teachers use this information to plan next steps and also share this with parents during parents evening.
In other subjects the federation have devised progression maps which show progressive assessment objectives that pupils should master over time. As we operate in mixed age classes we believe that these objectives should not be fixed to age but seen as a continuum in which pupils should achieve over the time they are in their class, aiming to reach the end of key stage two expectations or the higher standard before they leave primary school.
All analysis from assessments is used to inform future planning. It is used to inform the Federation’s development plan and key lines of enquiry to ensure all children make progress, targets are met and sufficient challenge is in place in efforts to increase the number of children working at greater depth.
Staff within the Federation work across the schools, class teachers inform staff of progress and the needs of individual children in order to keep all staff informed. The Federation SENDCo works with class teachers to support the learning needs of individual groups of children.
The following summative assessments are currently statutory:
- Formal summative assessment takes place at the end of each National Curriculum Key Stage (i.e. in Years 2 and 6) with SATs and teacher assessment.
- Phonics are tested in Year 1 and re-tested, where necessary, in Year 2.
- Pupils in Year 4 take a times table test at the end of the academic year.
- Base line assessment is used in Reception/Early Years within first four weeks of starting school and Foundation Stage Profiles are maintained.
In school, we use PIRA and PUMA tests to support our judgements – these tests are not statutory.
Reporting to parents happens twice a year through parental consultation evenings and once through a written report. Results of individual children’s assessments are made available to the parents concerned. A summary of data is made available to parents, governors, LA and national government.
Due to small cohorts in some of the schools within the Federation, this information is not shared publicly as individual children can be identified and this is not permissible we do however share 4-year averages online where larger groups can be shown.
We liaise with a number of different nursery providers before pupils start. Class 1 teachers conduct nursery or home visits prior to the child starting reception. We now have our own federation pre-school located at Grassington, which feeds into many of our schools.
Likewise, we have close links with our local secondary schools. Most of our pupils attend Upper Wharfedale Secondary School, Ermysted’s Grammar School or Skipton Girls’ High. Occasionally some pupils attend other settings such as Settle College, Nidderdale Secondary School, Bradford Grammar School, Giggleswick or Ilkley Grammar School. We notify parents at the start of Year 5 of opening days and for those parents who wish their child to take an entry exam can discuss how this works with their child’s class teacher.
Cross phase continuity is ensured by:
- pre-school liaison meetings with parents and other settings ;
- cross-phase liaison meetings within each school ;
- liaison meetings between Year 6 teachers and staff from secondary schools;
- transition visits to secondary schools by Year 6 pupils. For those children who require several visits this is arranged ;
- transfer of pupil records of progress and summative assessment results.