Networking Coversations

Networking Conversations

Headlines from Buckinghamshire Council Assessment Leaders’ Networking Conversations

Three networking conversations attended by 42 primary school assessment leaders in Buckinghamshire, explored current concerns, priorities and dilemmas regarding assessment in schools.  Delegates were unanimous in their support of the removal of statutory tests and teacher assessment for 2020 and 2021 but also acknowledged their wish to achieve a clear picture of the impact of the pandemic on learning in their own schools.

Most of the school representatives who attended meetings, suggested that they were likely to use similar forms of assessment to previous years, including making use of national tests and Teacher Assessment Frameworks. Some expressed doubt over the reliability of data if compared to previous years and wondered whether ‘national expectations’ may be redefined at some point. Some practitioners were unsure over the best means of assessing outcomes this year, given that remote learning may have addressed topics in quite different ways requiring alternative tools to capture the impact. This is leading some schools to want to research specific diagnostic assessment tools to meet their newly defined purposes for assessment.

Attendees felt that Assessment for Learning (AfL) practice would be critical for finding the most valuable information that could be used to guide curriculum decisions and support the deployment of resources (financial and human). At the same time, leaders recognised that many teachers in the profession may not have had recent or detailed training to support their AfL practice.

Schools identified years 1 and 2 pupils as of particular concern due to more than a year of disruption to their early learning experiences, and transition between key stages is also seen as a priority (year 2 -3 and year 6 -7). Training and mentoring for colleagues in their first few years is also critical, to compensate for any reduction to the usual training entitlement for early career teachers. 

Headlines from Buckinghamshire Council Assessment Leaders’ Networking Conversations

Held on 16th, 19th and 22nd March online  

Download the presentation here

During three online networking conversation held in March and attended by 42 assessment leaders for primary schools in Buckinghamshire, the following main points were noted.

  • Schools welcomed the removal of statutory assessments for 2021 but acknowledged a wish to achieve a clear picture of the impact of the pandemic, on learning in their schools
  • Assessment concerns facing schools this year include:
    • Uncertainty over the reliability of any data gathered using tools conventionally used in other years
    • Uncertainty over the impact on schools relative to neighbours
    • De-skilling of practitioners in assessment approaches
    • Possible re-calibration of standards or expectations
    • Uncertainly over how best to capture the impact on learning of the past two years
    • Uncertainty over how school data might be used or interpreted by external bodies
  • Assessment priorities for school in 2021 include:
    • Clearly identifying the purposes for any assessment undertaken (i.e. what is the information for? How will it be used? What will happen as a result of the information?)
    • Assessment to support curriculum planning for next year and beyond
    • Assessment to support transition between year groups / key stages / schools
    • Assessment to identify children who have under-performed
    • Assessment to direct resources (people and training)
  • Assessment models favoured by schools attending the meetings:
    • To continue with assessment plans in place for conventional years including making use of national assessments (tests and TAF)
    • To increase the emphasis on Assessment for Learning (AfL)
    • To research specific ‘diagnostic tools’ to meet newly defined purposes for assessment.

Thoughts for further consideration:

  • How to best support year 2 children who have had disruption throughout a key stage, as they move into year 3?
  • How to achieve the most effective liaison between infant and junior schools and key stage 2 to key stage 3 colleagues for transition?
  • How to build resilience? (Identified need amongst some pupil groups)
  • How best to support new colleagues, NQTs and NQT+1 given disruption to training in 2020-21?
  • Some pupils have flourished – how to identify, maintain and learn lessons from these successes?
  • Colleagues would appreciate hearing form others in Buckinghamshire about their investment plans for ‘Recovery’ budgets

Clarification is sought from DfE about the possible requirement for current year 1 pupils to take the phonics screening check in Autumn 2021.

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