Building and boosting vocabulary to improve results in reading and grammar tests

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth  for the following article.

One of the areas that has been identified as a weakness for Year 6 pupils taking end of Key Stage 2 reading tests relates to content domain 2a: ‘give or explain the meaning of words in context’.  This is an ongoing concern for teachers, as 20% of the questions on the 2017 reading SATs paper focused on this domain.

Further reaching than Year 6, teachers from Year 2 and across Key Stage 2 know that the increased pitch of vocabulary in both English reading and grammar, punctuation and spelling test papers is a challenge for many pupils – especially when undertaking more formal SATs type format tests (whether half-termly or at the end of each term).  It is therefore imperative to read widely with all children, plan English lessons around high quality texts, and also explicitly teach new vocabulary in context across wider curriculum subjects. Continue reading →

How do we improve maths teaching, learning and assessment for 7-14 year olds?

Thanks to John Dabell for the following article.

Is it better to ‘predict and prevent’ or ‘fix and find’ or do we do both?

There are thousands of studies available that make claims about impact but how can teachers separate the wheat from the chaff and know what really works and what to avoid.

We know that the effects of high quality teaching are especially significant for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. If only we had some discerning and pragmatic guidance to point us in the right direction based on secure and reliable evidence.    Continue reading →

Assessment: a key character in the story of learning

Thanks to Sebastian Rowland, Head of Year 6 at Etonbury Academy

Assessment. Love it or loathe it, it is a key character in the story of learning. As we plan, mark and assess in an ongoing cyclical process it is important to check that each assessment continues to have a purpose. In this article, I have outlined how we ensure our assessments have a clear purpose in improving teaching and learning in our school.

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Mythbusting with Ofsted

Sean HarfordThanks to Sean Harford, National Director, Education, Ofsted for the following article.

‘My bookcase was messy so I got marked down in my assessment…this is the level of hysteria we are facing in schools’.

Receiving messages like that is why we – and you – need to tackle the misinformation that circulates about ‘what Ofsted wants’.

Teacher workload is one of the most pressing concerns in education today and has a real impact on the retention of staff. We can’t afford to lose good teachers – and children certainly can’t afford to lose the opportunities you offer them.

The impulse to make everything ‘perfect’ can drive out creativity, passion and the love of teaching that are the reasons most people enter the profession. That’s why at Ofsted we know how important it is that people aren’t doing unnecessary tasks for us and adding to their workload. Continue reading →

Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3

Thanks to John Dabell for this article.

Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3’ is the latest report from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and presents sharp, intelligent and actionable guidance to support “great maths teaching” in primary and secondary schools.

The guidance is relevant to all pupils but in particular to those children who fall below their expected level of mathematics achievement. The report adopts the premise that it is essential to see maths as a pump rather than a filter in the pipeline of education but this can only be achieved through tapping into what works and is supported by research.

A vital enabler in the strengthening of teaching, learning and assessment is good access to relevant evidence; this report can help guide teachers towards this as its key focus is to promote a culture of evidence-led best practice.

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Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding – a MAT approach

Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding

By Tyrone Samuel, Network Lead for Primary Data and Assessment

The new academic year is in full swing, and as we enter autumn 2, I have already visited the majority of our primary schools as the Network Lead for Primary Assessment and Data at Ark.

Autumn 1 has been as busy and intense as ever for me, supporting schools with their data analysis and training, bringing our assessment leads together to collaborate on good practice, as well as sharing key lessons, messages and insights. This has helped to focus minds on our Ark network mission, to make sure that every pupil can go to university or into the career of their choice by setting high expectations and striving to know every pupil.

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Applying for access arrangements for GCSE

What are access arrangements?

According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, ‘access arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working.’ Schools can apply for 25% extra time in GCSE exams by applying for access arrangements, and usually the SENCo and/or the specialist assessor working within the school will process the applications online.

How can you apply for extra time and who is eligible?

In order to award extra time the school must assess the needs of the pupil based on one of the following documents:

  • Statement of Special Educational Needs relating to secondary education, or an Education, Health and Care Plan, which confirms the candidate’s disability; or
  • Assessment carried out no earlier than the start of Year 9 by an assessor confirming a learning difficulty relating to secondary/further education.

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9 things you need to know about the new teacher assessment framework for writing at KS1 and KS2

Thanks to Shareen Mayers for this article.

Shareen has been a KS1 moderator for a decade and a KS2 writing moderator for 6 years.  She is the lead moderator and moderation manager for a London LA.

Following the DfE’s response to the assessment consultation this September, we asked Shareen Mayers to share her thoughts on the changes to the teacher assessment framework for writing at key stages 1 and 2. If you’d like to share your thoughts, get in touch with us on @rsassessment.

  • A more flexible approach to the assessment of writing.

It is important to clarify that the more flexible approach to writing does not apply to reading, mathematics or science. They are still assessed as a secure-fit and pupils need to secure all the statements. The more flexible approach also needs to be interpreted with caution. The DfE states, ‘A pupil’s writing should meet all the statements within the standard at which they are judged. However, teachers can use their discretion to ensure that, on occasion, a particular weakness does not prevent an accurate judgement being made of a pupil’s attainment overall. A teacher’s professional judgement about whether the pupil has met the standard overall takes precedence. This approach applies to English writing only.’ This flexibility has been welcomed by many teachers within the profession and has been seen as a sensible approach to writing assessment.

  Continue reading →

Formative assessment as an integrated part of good practice in the classroom

Thanks to Siobhan Skeffington  for the following article.

Siobhan Skeffington is an education consultant, author and reviewer also involved in test development and Primary Teacher for 26 years including SLT and Leading teacher.

Formative and summative assessments are very different.  Summative assessment gives a picture of how the child is progressing at any given point and enables teachers and schools to gauge the overall attainment; this can also be used for accountability purposes. Formative assessment needs to be part of everyday practice and lesson planning, as it focuses on improving learning.

Assessment is often seen as a tool to be planned for in the form of a spelling or mental maths test. Teachers and senior leaders can often feel pressurised to do constant mini summative tests believing these give a clear indication of how pupils are performing. These tests can be informative but the best formative assessment or ‘assessment for learning’ is through the conversations between the children and the teachers during the normal course of the day.  Through carefully planned questioning, open ended activities and marking that allows children to review their own work, formative assessment can give teachers a wealth of information to use when planning the next steps for learning.  If used appropriately, they will have identified any misconceptions or gaps in knowledge and will be better-able to determine what the children actually know.

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What are the challenges in assessing pupils working below the expected standard?

Thanks to Lorraine Petersen, Independent Educational Consultant – Former Chief Executive of Nasen, for the following article.

 

Setting the scene

Statutory assessment plays an important role in ensuring that every child is supported to leave primary school prepared to succeed. It is crucial that every school is able to demonstrate every pupil’s personal attainment and progress not just at the end of a key stage but throughout their primary education.

Those pupils who have not completed the relevant programmes of study when they reach the appropriate age for statutory assessments do not have the knowledge and skills to achieve expected standard in the national curriculum tests. This is a diverse group including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with English as an additional language. Schools have to look for other ways to monitor and celebrate success and progress for this group of pupils.

Continue reading →