‘Assessment’ is an activity that is aimed at gauging a child or group of children’s understanding. It is part of our commitment that children should know more and remember more and that learning is evidenced by a change in long-term memory.
Assessment is integral to all parts of school life, in a constant dialogue between teaching staff and child to consider how they are grasping new knowledge and mastering new skills. Some of the research that underlies our thinking includes Black and Wiliam (1998), Clarke (2008) and Sherrington (2019). As well as the activities outlined here, assessment practices include:
Teacher questioning: lesson observations look particularly at how teachers use questions to extend children's thinking, identify misconceptions and help children make links with prior learning.
Marking of children's work and teacher feedback (including post-teaching activities): regular work scrutiny and discussions with pupils help us see how clear children are about next steps and how they can improve.
Subject leader reviews: subject leaders identify how teachers' planning aligns with our curriculum. They also examine books, talk to groups of children and observe lessons. Leaders use this information to identify areas of strength and areas where we would like to continue to improve.
Learning Review Meetings: these termly meetings take place in phases. Staff identify groups of children who are not making progress we would like or subject areas where progress is not expected. They share expertise on how to improve learning for these children. Senior Leaders use information across phases to identify areas of development across the whole school.
Termly assessment of pupils' attainment and progress in core subjects in relation to national standards: these are analysed and used to inform decisions about deployment of staff and resources. Judgements are also moderated internally and across other schools in the Sheffield South East Learning Partnership (SSELP).
Reporting to parents: At parents' evenings and in annual reports, we recognise children's strengths and areas for development
Additional support for children with special educational needs: The impact of additional support is regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that these pupils are making as much progress as possible.
These, and other assessment activities, feed into our assessment practises. Our Assessment and Review Pedagogy outlines how assessment are conducted in more detail.
Our Assessment and Review Calendars
Our Assessment and Review Calendars give teaching staff a structure of assessment across the year. This ensures assessment activities are meaningful and manageable. We ensure that we assess children’s understanding in different ways (please see the key on the calendar document), to ensure the conclusions we draw from our assessments are both as reliable and valid as possible. Once these assessments have been completed, review activities are used during the following half-term to address misconceptions or areas of development that have arisen from the assessments. This means that the exact content of the review activities cannot be planned before the assessments have taken place, yet staff have considered the types of activities that may be helpful in addressing these gaps.
As part of our response to our June 2021 Ofsted monitoring visit, this is an area for development this year. Our Assessment and Review Calendars explain what content will be assessed each half-term. These were implemented in 2021-22 and we are currently evaluating their impact on the children's learning.