Assessment and Feedback
Robust assessment procedures and good quality feedback play key roles in helping students to improve and progress.
In Upper School there are specialist teachers for all subjects of the National Curriculum and good teacher/ student ratios. Small teaching groups ensure that teachers know the capability and learning needs of individual students very well and can accurately assess, record learning and identify next steps using their subject specialist knowledge and understanding.
Assessment is used to recognise achievement and record progress made from known starting points. It is also an important part of the evaluation and review of lessons that teachers undertake before planning subsequent lessons. It is used to monitor pupils’ progress against their individual targets and to identify any areas of difficulty which we need to plan for.
Assessment takes a variety of different forms:
- In class assessment through questioning, observation and discussion.
- Marking of written classwork and homework.
- Student self and peer assessment against learning criteria.
- Formal ‘in class’ tests and examinations.
- Accelerated reading quizzes.
- Assessment in collaboration with other agencies e.g. Speech and Language Therapy or Deaf CAMHS
With the removal of National Curriculum Levels, Heathlands introduced a new system to record progress called the ‘Heathlands Tracker’. This tracking is used across the school so is clear and easily interpreted by all. On the tracker, each student’s learning is assessed and evaluated against the learning criteria for each subject of the National Curriculum. Learning objectives are explained at the start of each lesson and revisited in the plenary so that learning can be assessed by staff and students. A summary tracking page records progress from previous starting points and enables teachers to see each student’s attainment in relation to age related expectations. The tracker also provides a comprehensive ‘hand over’ record of individual progress and attainment.
Staff also assess students’ progress in relation to personal and social development processes and skills. These are often called “soft skills” and will vary dependent on the targets set as priorities for individual children. ‘Soft skills’ are recorded using the Continuum of Skills Development.
Staff meet termly to review each student’s progress. As Upper School students are taught by several subject specialist teachers, a consensus of progress across the curriculum is captured through a termly monitoring procedure. Each subject teacher enters a record of progress, homework, effort and behaviour which are combined to give a colour code. The school Sims data base is used to analyse attendance and behaviour data. The Accelerated Reading programme analyses reading progress. Form tutors meet to discuss each pupil’s personal development. These are also colour coded on the individual monitoring form. At termly pupil progress meetings, staff identify what is going well but also consider areas of concern and what can be done to boost progress. Staff will discuss ‘Learning’, ‘Personal Development’, ‘Reading’, ‘Attendance’ and ‘Behaviour’. Staff monitor whether students are “on track” and take action to address any concerns with an aim to move progress towards ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. The discussion is recorded on an individual pupil progress monitoring form.
The pupil progress monitoring informs the EHC Plan reviews which take place annually. Here outcomes and interim targets are discussed with parents and external professionals to ensure that they remain appropriate in ensuring all students’ individual needs are met and any specific support or equipment is provided.
This is hugely important in order to promote good progress and forms part of every learning activity. Students must know what they have done well and what they need to do to improve and be guided towards achieving the ‘next steps’.
Feedback takes many forms; verbal feedback, peer/self-assessment and light touch ‘acknowledgement’ marking.
Subject teachers will also engage in ‘In-depth’ marking and feedback using the ‘two stars and a wish’ strategy. The stars are positive comments which relate to the learning objectives. The wish identifies one area where the success criteria have not been met and a suggestion how the student can improve.
Marking for literacy takes place across the curriculum using common Departmental marking codes. This has particular significance in supporting improvement in writing therefore feedback and marking links closely to individual literacy targets which are contained in each student planner along with the codes.
Students are expected to respond to the feedback and make the necessary changes within the marked work as well as aim to extend this improvement across other subjects in the curriculum.
To facilitate this process, lessons also incorporate ‘Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time’ (DIRT), where time is given within a lesson to allow the student to reflect and act on feedback provided, especially written feedback.
Where students have the ability to self-evaluate against learning objectives and individual targets this is encouraged, particularly during the plenary session of a lesson. The way this is done will vary depending on the cohort needs and learning activity.