Foundation subject assessment – that perennial problem

Thanks to Stuart Tiffany - Year 6 Class Teacher & History Coordinator for this blog article.

If you are anything like us, you are still getting to grips with assessment without levels. The idea of working towards, meeting and exceeding is as easy as 3a, b and c. That’s just for English and maths so what about the other subjects? How can you effectively implement and manage a system that is workable but allows leaders to monitor attainment? There are solutions out there and it is definitely worth remembering that just because a child excels in maths does not mean this is true across the range of subjects studied!
 
After taking a quick poll on several teacher groups on social media, it seems that there are many different schemes, systems and ideas in use ranging from own judgement to frameworks such as the Rising Stars Progression Frameworks.
 
In the past, each subject contained certain knowledge, skills and understanding (KSU’s) and these helped with the attempt to create a balanced curriculum so we need to replicate this with the system being used. The key issue is progression of knowledge, skills and understanding. We do need more than a couple of exemplar sentences to accurately assess and thankfully many of the new systems available offer clear objective led approaches. It is clear that an effective assessment system can really help with the planning, teaching and implementation of this.
 
The Rising Stars Progression Framework for Geography helps teachers to achieve this by having clearly defined skills and areas of understanding across the primary age phase under three main headings: historical understanding, historical enquiry and periods in history; this allows teachers to plan in progression and layers of differentiation to tailor lessons to the needs of their class. For example, in a year 5 class I taught the Ancient Greeks so I took objectives from the ‘periods in history’ strand to have levels of differentiation from KS1 to Upper KS2. If used systematically, the framework allows teachers to design interesting units that engage their class at each child’s own level while still keeping the focus the same.
 
Because the lessons have a clear topic focus (while still maintaining the highest standards of English and maths), it will make assessing the children an easier task. The next question that arises is how can we make consistent judgements year to year? As part of the implementation of this new curriculum, why not make a portfolio of topic work to act as exemplification materials and aid with assessment consistency across year groups and phases of school.
 
Whatever system your school chooses to use, the key areas of focus need to be: consistent use, show and track progress and use all that hard work to inform the children’s future learning.
 

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