Kingsweston School Assessment Strategy
Education generally and National Curriculum (NC) assessment specifically is undergoing a period of rapid and significant change. As a consequence we need a robust Assessment Strategy that can operate successfully in this climate. This Strategy is underpinned by principles of practice that meet our statutory obligations whilst consistently retaining the needs and priorities of our pupil population as the primary point of reference for our assessment activities.
The children and young people at Kingsweston have a huge range of social, emotional, sensory integration and learning needs. Their cognitive abilities cover a very wide range, from those who may be learning cause and effect in a very sensory context, to those who read, tell the time and manage money, through more formal lessons. A small percentage achieve at GCSE level.
The needs of our young people and the specialist knowledge and understanding that our staff group have are fundamental to meaningful assessment processes. It is obvious that a child who has no functional vision will not be able to learn about colours. It is less obvious that a child who is struggling to engage in a learning activity may have unmet sensory integration needs. For a non-verbal child, learning to read by phonics is much more difficult than for some other cohorts; if they were very premature then their brain structure will mitigate against learning of this kind (Carpenter 2015). Investing in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of our staff group is essential if we are to deliver an assessment regime which is informed, relevant and useful.
We aim to provide our pupils with supportive and engaging learning experiences that are characterised by the development of strong relationships. In a national context in which some assessment/examination conditions are imposed and which may of themselves be a challenge to our pupils, high quality relationships can be a crucial to enabling our pupils to transition and engage effectively, so demonstrating their learning and being able to move on to their preferred next stage of education. The staff understanding of these needs means that we are able to support our pupils in preparing for the challenges that such circumstances may present. However for most pupils most of the time, we are able to utilise teacher assessment strategies within the familiar classroom settings and routines.
The Assessment Policy, CPD Policy, Curriculum Statement and Communication in Context document can be usefully referenced alongside this Strategy.
Learning, Leadership, Teaching and Assessment
To achieve our key strategic aim of enhancing pupil outcomes, we have three interlinking strands, each with a set of goals which are constantly evolving: System Leadership; Curricular Links; and Quality First Teaching. The Strategy promotes the development of a variety of approaches to teaching and assessment that combine personal interaction with the effective use of appropriate and emerging technologies. It aims to enhance all stages of the pupil experience, through and beyond school into their future pathways.
1. System Leadership
1.1 To benchmark expectations.
To build upon existing relationships within the Bristol community of special schools to compare and contrast our frameworks of expectations regarding progress against age and starting points.
To reference the national Progression Guidance expectations for pupils using the P Levels and old NC level descriptors, (whilst being mindful that enhanced expectations of pupil outcomes nationally have not been reflected in updates to this national database).
To be engaged in and where possible contribute to the ongoing national debate amongst special schools with regards to the development of assessment practices in a context of the removal of NC levels.
1.2 To moderate our assessment practices.
To continue to work with colleagues within school as well as across the Bristol (and regional) community of schools to moderate assessments across as many formats as possible, but including P Levels and accreditation levels.
As a result of the above activity, to provide staff with a high level of proficiency and confidence in their assessment practices.
1.3 To share and learn from best practice.
To continue to work with colleagues within the Bristol (and regional) community of schools to develop outstanding assessment practices in relation to all forms of staff led assessment practices: ipsative (comparing a pupil’s current performance against their previous performance); formative (checking a pupil’s understanding so that teaching can be modified accordingly); and summative (evaluating what a pupil now knows – often at the end of a unit of learning).
To establish a means of securing a useful baseline assessment framework in the context of life after the NC levels.
2. Curricular Links
2.1 To integrate assessment and the curriculum in ways that support diverse and flexible approaches to learning.
To recognise that the curriculum offer for each of our pupils needs to be relevant; that whilst we recognise the need for a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ we also recognise that this will mean different things for different pupils and that our approach to assessment needs to be equally differentiated.
3. Quality First Teaching
3.1 To support classroom staff in effective assessment practices
To identify and promote the use of technologies that enhance learning, support practice and promote communication about learning between pupils and staff.
To recognise in our assessment practices that there is not a single menu of interventions and approaches appropriate to all and there is no one curriculum that fits all our pupils (see Curriculum Statement). Everything we do, and everything each pupil experiences, must be meaningful to them. Our assessment practices enable us to find the very best interventions and approaches to learning for each young person.
To develop the use of information and data about teaching and intervention outcomes such that their impact upon learning and wellbeing can be evaluated at as early a stage as possible and modifications made immediately.
To improve digital literacy in staff and students by providing professional development opportunities for all to become familiar and comfortable with the use of technologies to enhance learning.
3.2 Keeping pupils in the assessment loop.
To engage young people in reviewing their own learning and, where possible and meaningful, that of their peers.
To model to pupils where appropriate the principles of feedback and next step feedback, supporting and promoting independence and self-evaluation.
To enhance the School’s practice in collecting and analysing pupil feedback.
3.3 Keeping parents and carers informed about and involved in assessments.
To work in partnership with the Parent Council and utilise wider parental feedback to enhance the information contained within the Annual Reports to parents and the ways in which this is presented to them.
To work in partnership with the Parent Council and utilise wider parental feedback to identify a means through which we can continue to meet our statutory reporting obligations to parents whilst at the same time ensuring we are communicating with parents and families about the things that matter most to them.
To build upon our best ‘Person Centred Review’ practice to secure Annual Reviews and Education, Health and Care Plan reviews that are pupil and family focused.
To support pupils and families in engaging with WIKI’s as a means of articulating and communicating the things that matter to them about pupil needs and progress.