Hopefully you've all had an enjoyable summer break and have landed without too much of a bump into Autumn term. I'd like to update you on the work we've been doing over the summer at the Assessment Foundation, looking in further depth at the draft curriculum for 2022.
What we've found
It will be of no surprise that we've been looking at the structure of the new curriculum, most particularly the area of assessment. Whist the curriculum remains in draft form (the consultation closed upon the 19th July and we're awaiting the government's response), it has been of great interest to finally see and engage with what has been provided so far. The Pioneer Schools and steering groups should be rightly proud of what they have produced.
I have principally examined the Achievement Outcomes - the ‘I can’ and ‘I have’ statements - staged across five Progression Steps and arranged under What Matters statements. What immediately struck me was the great level of attention to detail that has been paid to the relationships between assessment statements. This is not news, of course - skills and knowledge are as interconnected as they are diverse. However, it is pleasing to see the connections made explicit. This will support practitioners in connecting learning experiences together, especially those getting to grips with sharing their subject disciplines at secondary (this vlog by Olchfa school is a great example).
The sheer size and complexity of the AoLE documents is their most striking feature. The documents are meaty, and the concepts are not small. One feels quite relieved that schools have until 2022 to implement this curriculum - understanding and absorbing the content alone will be challenge enough before you even come to the fact that what is provided is a broad framework to cover three-year stages. There are gaps to be filled, but first schools must get to grips with the size and shape of those gaps.
So, shark infested waters? No - but perhaps more like diving through a kelp forest. At first all that is evident is the mass of seaweed, but as one becomes accustomed to the light, layers of depth, little habitats, and areas of beauty appear. A rewarding result of what is undoubtedly a significant effort.
What we're doing next
We're planning to work more closely with schools on the draft curriculum, so we can harness the brilliant practice in Welsh education to steer the next generation of assessment in schools.
We're launching Assessment Foundation Curriculum Feedback Group to:
The localisation of assessment is both a challenge and an amazing opportunity for us to support assessment in new and exciting ways, and we want to get the best picture possible of what schools need.
"I'm very interested to work alongside the Assessment Foundation to investigate ways of developing a quality child centred assessment tool that would accurately support the new curriculum."
- Colin Jenkins, Headteacher, Buttington-Trewern Primary School
Whilst we work with 72% of primary schools in Wales, the Assessment Foundation have also worked with a number of secondary and 3-19 schools, supporting transition and assessment up to Y9. We plan to roll out our new assessment system to secondary schools also.
We know that schools are busy, and what's more, that there is a constant stream of messages arriving about Curriculum 2022. So joining will be opt-in. We'll still keep everyone up to date with major developments, but we'll only contact those who join the mailing list to ask questions and take feedback.
Lucy Ridley, Chief Operations Officer
With the Common Inspection Framework from Estyn (September 2017) there has been a shift towards analysing progress made in school. Inspectors look at progress made in the current academic year, across the Key Stage/Phase and since starting school.
Incerts can help you monitor progress, identify pupils falling behind, and put interventions in place to drive forward learning. Our Help & Advice section has lots of ideas to help, in particular the Tracking Progress page.
The Year 3 conundrum
Incerts uses a pupil’s scores from the end of the previous year as the starting point from which to record current year progress – without a ‘previous score’, progress cannot be measured. Normally, this isn’t a problem because pupils are usually assessed against the same descriptors year-to-year. However, when a pupil moves from being assessed against Outcomes in the Foundation Phase to Levels in Key Stage 2, things get a little bit tricky.
With the *old* descriptors, Outcomes 4, 5 and 6 “aligned” with Levels 1, 2 and 3. Whilst the link was tentative and much debated, Incerts was able to transfer information to aid progress tracking in Year 3.
Then, Welsh Government produced “recalibrated Outcomes” in 2015 when the Reception Baseline was introduced. Last year was the first year where pupils were assessed against these more challenging descriptors at the end of Year 2, and then transitioned to KS2 Levels in Year 3 – as expected, it has thrown up a variety of issues!
Following this change, the ‘alignment’ has been completely broken and Year 3 teachers will always begin the year with no Year 2 ticks on the Assess pages. Consequently, there is no ‘previous score’ on the same scale, and so Incerts has no starting point for measuring progress in Year 3.
In order to accurately demonstrate pupils’ progress in Year 3, we therefore recommend setting an ‘on-entry’ assessment at the beginning of Year 3. The obvious benefit is that you’ll create a ‘previous score’ for each pupil, against the same descriptors (KS2 Levels) – you’ll then be comparing like with like.
So how can I do this on Incerts?
We’ve developed a way for teachers to record an initial assessment for pupils in Year 3, and then push it back to create this starting point.
At the beginning of the year, Year 3 teachers should spend some time observing their new pupils, and if possible, work with the Year 2 teacher to establish what they can do. When ready, teachers should record their initial assessments on Incerts (this will have an impact on workload of course, so your school may decide to do this in literacy and numeracy only, or just the core subjects, for example).
Once recorded, someone with Admin rights must set the assessments as the starting point. They need to go to Edit and then Edit School, and hover over the ‘advanced feature’ next to the Set On-Entry button and click the link that appears.
This takes you to a new page where you should follow these steps:
1. Select “All of Yr 3” in the “Class/Group” dropdown
2. Tick boxes for the pupils you wish to create a starting point for (or Select All)
3. Press Move Ticks
4. Read the message and tick the box to confirm you have understood the warning
5. Confirm the operation
All assessments recorded to this point in Year 3 will then be pushed back so that they appear in the previous year (i.e. Year 2). Teachers will notice that the ticks will have changed from the green colour (denoting Year 3) to orange (Year 2), and they will be able to record pupils’ progress through the rest of the year against this starting point.
Setting an ‘On-Entry’ Assessment for Nursery PupilsSchools with a Foundation Phase will already be aware of the process for setting the Reception Baseline on Incerts. But some schools also have a Nursery setting, and since Estyn might be interested in seeing progress “since starting school”, it can be useful to record an ‘On-Entry’ assessment when Nursery pupils start at your school.
To do this, Nursery teachers need to record what pupils can do when they first start at the school. Then, much like the process described above for Year 3, someone with Admin Right needs to set the assessments as the starting point.
For the new pupils that start in September, simply click the Set On-Entry button on Edit School.
The Set On-Entry button can only be pressed once each academic year. So, for late starters or staggered intakes, you will need an extra step to record their On-Entry positions:
We hope this is clear and helpful, but as always, we’re here to help – if you have any questions, please contact our Support Team.
Adam Wilkinson, Support Team