New partnership between our standardised tests and Arbor’s cloud-based MIS

We are delighted to announce the new partnership between our standardised tests for primary schools and Arbor’s cloud-based MIS for schools & MATs.

Our standardised tests for primary schools

Our standardised tests, PiRA and PUMA, are a key component of many primary school improvement strategies, helping key stakeholders to track pupils’ in-year progress and benchmark against age-related expectations.

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A White-Knuckle Ride in the Changing Face of Primary Curriculum and Assessment

At this year’s BETT Show Peter Richardson, Assistant Head teacher at Walton-le-Dale Primary School, gave an insightful talk about his school’s journey through the new curriculum and changes in primary assessment. Here’s a quick summary from Peter.

  • When developing a system to measure progress against the new curriculum, avoid trying to recreate another flawed system of levels. This is an opportunity to create something better!
  • We find that having one assessment system that can be used by teachers andsubject leaders as a ‘one stop shop’ for assessment data really works.
  • The new curriculum has brought with it brand new challenges, but there are free tools available to help in terms of new curriculum content and demand. The Rising Stars Progression Frameworkswhich support teachers by breaking down the curriculum into meaningful statements with guidance on what to look for in a child who is meeting expectations, have given teachers more confidence with the new curriculum and have led to more accurate and robust teacher assessments.
  • There are tools out there that can save schools time, but these must support teacher judgement. We’ve chosen to use Classroom Monitor because it’s easy-to-use, time-efficient, provides high-quality analysis and uses the Rising Stars Progression Frameworks.
  • Test results should be used as one piece of evidence to support teacher judgements. We choose to use Rising Stars Assessment Progress Testsas they inform our teacher assessments and we trust their results. They also inform our teachers’ planning and direction to take learning without resorting to ‘teaching to the test’.
  • We choose to invest in resources from companies that we can trust, like Rising Stars.  We believe they are a company who produce expertly-written, easy-to-use resources that fit the needs of our school and ultimately, have the interests of improving learning for children at their core. Continue reading →

The Depth vs. Breadth Challenge – Assessing Pupil Knowledge in the New Curriculum

At the BETT show this year, Rising Stars and Classroom Monitor joined forces to assemble a panel of experts to discuss the New Curriculum, Mastery and its implications on Assessment.

The debate was chaired by Chris Scarth, Commercial Director of Classroom Monitor and the panel was made up of:

Ed Walsh: Lead consultant for science at Cornwall Learning

Shareen Mayers: Primary English Adviser for Sutton Improvement and Support services

Ben Fuller: Joint Lead Assessment adviser at Herts for Learning Ltd,. Former primary school teacher and local authority adviser for assessment.

Tanya Parker: who has worked as a consultant at a number of different education technology companies including Classroom Monitor and was a primary teacher with responsibility for assessment and maths.

Some sizeable issues were dissected during the debate and our panel offered some really interesting and practical perspectives on how teachers can approach mastery and assessment in a world free from levels.

The first point of discussion was around the depth vs breadth debate. Chris Scarth questioned whether focusing on fewer things in greater depth was intrinsically linked to mastery.

Ben suggested that finding a balance between the two could be a more useful way of approaching mastery, commenting: I would say that in really good schools teachers always go for depth and breadth, helping students take knowledge and applying it in a range of different contexts.”

The conversation then moved on to question whether mastery could lead to repetitive teaching. However, Shareen offered a positive and practical approach that would avoid this pitfall, suggesting that teachers could approach one concept in a variety of ways. Continue reading →