Tennyson Road Primary School, Luton

This year’s key stage 2 results paint a national picture of schools struggling to deal with the demands of a tough new curriculum. Just 53 per cent of 11-year-olds reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in 2016, a drop from 80 per cent in 2015.

But the performance tables reveal that some primaries are coping with the challenge better than others.

At Tennyson Road Primary, in Luton – an authority where results overall were below the national average – 100 per cent of children reached the expected level across the board.

And pupils didn’t just scrape it – average scaled scores (where 100 represents the expected standard) were 109, 110 and 111. To set the achievement in context, the school has a high proportion of pupils with English as an additional language, high mobility and high deprivation. Children start reception with below national average development.

Tennyson Road is an “outstanding” school and used to performing well. However, two years ago, when the results in Year 5 assessments were below what was expected, Head teacher Hilary Power knew the school had to raise its game.

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Classroom Monitor National Primary Assessment Survey 2016: the results

In summer 2016, Classroom Monitor launched a National Primary Assessment Survey to find out how schools have adapted to a world free from levels.

What’s included?

The whitepaper includes findings in the following areas.

  • Post levels life: How many schools continue to record assessment against National Curriculum Levels?
  • Personalised v Specialist Solution: How many schools are choosing to create their own framework against those using an off the shelf solution, and how do each rate their success?
  • The way assessment is recorded: Do schools consider a specialist solution worth the time and money? Or are schools better off sticking to traditional means of recording assessment? Continue reading →

KS2 progress measures: key information and the national picture

Thanks to Deputy Head teacher Michael Tidd for this article.

Head teachers will have been frantically logging on to the DfE website today to find out how their schools have done in the new progress measures following this summer’s new KS2 tests – even though many schools still haven’t started the new term yet! It’s left many of us unprepared, and probably many more scrabbling around for the key login details.

Getting your school’s data

Head teachers will have been sent login details for the Tables Checking website, including a password which was sent out by post last week. For schools whose post is held by the Royal Mail over the holidays, that may now mean an anxious wait. There is a helpline and email address on the Tables Checking site for those who can’t hang on for the postman!

Once logged in, you will be able to complete a data checking exercise, as in previous years, to ensure that data is accurate before it goes into the final version of Raise Online. You’ll also be able to see your school’s progress measures for each of the three key subjects: Reading, Writing and Maths. These scores are all-important for the new floor standard – particularly for the majority of schools who did not reach the 65% attainment thresholds.

These figures are simple numbers, roughly in the range of -10 to 10. A score of 0 in any given subject means that children at your school – on average – made the same progress as others of a similar ability nationally in that subject. Positive scores suggest your children did better than the average nationally, and negative scores suggest that progress was not as good as the national average. Importantly, negative scores do not necessarily mean that your school is in trouble. Continue reading →

It’s time to leave your old curriculum questions behind

Thanks to our guest blogger and Deputy Head teacher Michael Tidd for the following article.

Where do you keep yours? We all have them somewhere, often hidden out of view, but ready to be pulled out and used at any moment.

I’m talking, of course, of old test papers. They’re usually stacked in a cupboard somewhere, often in increasingly-tatty boxes with hastily-scrawled labels on them. In many cases, there are papers there that are older than the children in our classrooms. Chances are, there’ll be at least one for which the mark scheme has long since disappeared.

It’s time to let go. It’s hard, but necessary. Clear the shelf-space, fill the recycling bin, and enter the brave new world. They’re redundant, like it or not, and their time has passed. If it helps, keep a copy of each for posterity. After all, it seems harsh to discard Evelyn Glennie and Sharon Brown the lorry driver entirely.

Why am I urging the previously unthinkable? Because the new curriculum is here, the new tests are on the horizon, and assessment needs to change. We know that the tests are now useless as a predictor of success in the new tests: for a start, a level is meaningless in the new word of scaled scores. More importantly, the tests no longer assess the content we are required to teach.

There’ll be those who argue that sitting a test is still good practice. And I agree. But there are new tests that match the new curriculum that serve this need more effectively. Others will say that the questions are still a good assessment tool, and there I agree again. But sitting three maths test papers for the benefit of a handful of diagnostic points is overkill. Why make children sit through papers with questions on probability and modal averages that they’ll not need to reach the expected standard for at the end of the Key Stage? Continue reading →

Updated Key Stage 2 reporting arrangements for 2016 national tests

Updated Key Stage 2 assessment and reporting arrangements for 2016

Children who are at the end of Key Stage 2 in May 2016 will be the first to be assessed against the new national curriculum. Ahead of these new national tests, the Standards and Testing Agency have released statutory guidance for head teachers and local authority coordinators.

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FREE recorded webinar on assessment in the new curriculum

It’s the start of the new academic year and for many this signals the official start of a level-free approach to assessment.

To help you navigate your way through the numerous changes to the National Tests and understand how schools are expected to measure progress and attainment in the absence of levels, we have pre-recorded a free webinar. This is available to listen to by clicking play on the below screen, at any time, from anywhere, so you can digest all this useful information when it best suits you.

Put aside 45 minutes to listen to Camilla Erskine, our Consultant Publisher for Assessment, cover the following key areas:

  • An update on changes to the assessment and accountability landscape in England
  • What the removal of National Curriculum levels means for primary schools in terms of pupil attainment and progress
  • Overview of how Ofsted will judge attainment and progress without levels
  • What schools are doing in response to these changes
  • Sources of information and support
  • A brief overview of the Rising Stars and Hodder Education assessment solutions for primary schools (with special discounts for webinar viewers)

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