In a little over a month, I’ll be speaking at a conference in London about primary assessment. I have previously spoken at such an event back in May/June of this year, and at the time shared the stage with a representative from the DfE who seemed to have as little clue as the rest of us about what was likely to happen.
Things move quickly in education, particularly under the current government, so much has emerged since then, yet there are still plenty of unknowns and plenty of areas of uncertainty. It’s for that reason that I’ll look forward to attending the same conference to hear from other experts in the field, and to see how other schools are tackling the challenges of our situation.
Since the summer, we have learned a good deal more about the nature of the test, as well as something more about teacher assessment. There remain many unanswered questions, particularly about how Teacher Assessment will work, and I’m hoping that the DfE representative might be able to shed some light on that matter. I’m also fascinated to hear from Ofsted about what they say they’ll be looking for in the systems that schools use.
What we do know, perhaps more clearly than ever, is that schools are being left to ‘go it alone’ when it comes to internal assessment. Of course, schools were always free to do so, but the levels system became all-but-universal. Now, schools are working individually, in partnerships, alliances and chains to create their own systems of tracking progress and recording assessments to support their judgements during each key stage.
What seems to matter more than ever is that schools collaborate on this. Whether that be with other schools in their locality, or through ‘buying in’ a shared system which provides a sense of moderation as back-up, schools need to be aware of what others are doing more than ever. Rather than looking to the DfE for a preferred model, or the required approach, schools should be looking at what is available in the ‘marketplace’, and making a choice that suits their requirements. As Dylan Wiliam said in his recent Teach Primary article – simple off-the-peg solutions may no longer be good enough.
Of course, that’s why at the conference I’ll be talking about my own, adaptable, free model of Key Objectives and the accompanying tracking documents. I’ll also be talking about how I think mastery approaches can support the combination of assessment with planning and teaching. That’s not because I think I have all the answers: I don’t think anybody does any more. I think all we can do is share what we know and find what works for us, within the confines of the system we have.
It’s a difficult time for school leaders to know where to turn and what to use, but it’s also an opportunity for us to really take a grip of how assessment works in our schools and to make it work for the benefit of our students, rather than for the producers of graphs.
The conference at which I will be speaking is the Optimus Effective Primary Assessment under the new National Curriculum conference in London on Thursday 29th January. More details are available at http://www.optimus-education.com/conferences/assessment15
Readers of my blog who would like to attend can receive 20% off the standard rate if they use the promotional code MT15 when booking online.