There are two types of assessment: Summative and Formative.
Summative assessment evaluates children’s learning at the end of a unit of work, series of lessons or at a set point in the year. The results of the assessment are compared to a standard or a benchmark.
Formative assessment provides ongoing feedback to help children identify strengths and weaknesses and provide targeted next steps. Summative assessment is like measuring a plant to see how much it has grown whereas formative assessment is like giving a plant water and sunlight in order that it can grow.
PART 1 – Formative Assessment
Effective marking and feedback
Children need to understand the feedback we give and act accordingly in response to the feedback to improve their learning and make progress. It requires a significant amount of work from the pupil and not (as is historically the case) from the teacher. To really learn something we have to think hard about it and this doesn’t happen when pupils don’t have to find their own mistakes. We start with the assumption that all children can work independently given prior input. Then we increase the amount of intervention if the pupil really needs it.
- The sole purpose of feedback should be to further children’s learning
- Evidence of feedback is incidental to the process; we do not provide additional evidence for external verification
- Feedback should empower children to take responsibility for improving their own work; it should not take away from this responsibility by adults doing the hard thinking work for the pupil
- Written comments should only be used as a last resort for the very few children who otherwise are unable to locate their own errors, even after guided modelling by the teacher
- Children should receive feedback either within the lesson itself or in the next appropriate lesson
- The ‘next step’ is usually the next lesson
- Feedback is part of the school’s wider assessment processes which aim to provide an appropriate level of challenge to pupils in lessons, allowing them to make good progress
- New learning is fragile and usually forgotten unless explicit steps are taken over time to revisit and refresh learning. Teachers should be wary of assuming that children have securely learnt material based on evidence drawn close to the point of teaching it.
- Therefore teachers will need to get feedback at some distance from the original teaching input when assessing if new learning is now secure
We differentiate the marking approaches that are used for different subjects and to a degree, with phases of the school. The marking and feedback policy that works for KS2 maths would not be the same as for KS1 English. The focus is very much on actionable feedback that children can take into the next activity or the next lesson.
Looking at Books/pieces of work
Marking books outside of the lesson is not the best way to give feedback to children. The gap between learning and feedback blunts its effectiveness. The best feedback is given during the lesson. However, books should still be looked at after the lesson. This may be every book so the planning can be adapted for the next lesson or just those books where the teacher ended the lesson without a clear idea of where the children are and what their next steps are. Alternatively the books scrutinised may be a focus group.
Sometimes the children are asked to book sort e.g. put your book on this pile if you are confident, this pile if you need more practice and this pile if you would like another lesson on this skill.
Sometimes the teachers may sort the books to gain an understanding of where to pitch the next lesson for the different groups of children. This helps children not be labelled or fixed in a set group but allows for fluid grouping.
Teachers need to check:
- That the same errors are not repeated from week to week
- That the quality of work has not declined
- How different groups of children have progressed, e.g. low attainers, most able students, those with special educational needs
- That presentation has not declined
- We expect that progress will be evident throughout children’s books as they start to correctly use skills which have been taught. We would not expect the same mistakes to be repeated throughout the books.
Feedback Policy Approaches for Reading
Each class is read to most days and the book is discussed. Questioning is used to help teachers and children discuss the themes and characters in the text.
Children have time to read independently. The teacher and librarians guide them to discuss the book and to next steps in their reading.
Younger children and SEND children read more frequently to adults and notes are kept on their progress.
Reading activities and comprehension type lessons have opportunities for shared marking and to discuss answers.
In EY and KS1 the children are taught phonics daily through the scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. Assessments are used regularly to check the childrens’ progress through the phases of letters and sounds.
Feedback Policy Approaches for Writing
Pupils write daily. Draft books are not marked nor published pieces of writing however, we keep records of children’s individual attainment and this is detailed below.
Early Years (EY)
In the Early Years children are introduced to the experience of Writer’s Workshop once routines within the class have been established. They are taught to see that their marks have meaning and are encouraged to talk about their marks, drawings or writing. Adults celebrate children’s marks and invite them to talk about what they have produced with their peers. Children are encouraged to have a ‘can do’ attitude and work independently during this time from the very beginning.
The process of mark making to writing that can be read by themselves and others develops gradually throughout the year and enables young children to work and progress at their own pace. Children begin their work on plain paper and they have the choice as to whether this is displayed in the classroom, put in their journal or taken home. Once children are able to control the size of their writing daily sessions are completed in Writing Workshop books.
As in the older years we build independence by:
- Giving children choice and ownership of their drawings and writing
- Teaching them the skills of writing so they are able to ‘have a go’ by themselves
- Encouraging them to read their work to others
In KS1 the children are taught through Writer’s Workshop that writing is a process. A piece of writing has a purpose and doesn’t just finish because you’ve reached the end of the page or the end of the lesson. We encourage them to take ownership of their writing. We won’t give ideas, we won’t do it for them, we won’t tell them how to spell a word.
We build independence from day one by:
- talking about being able to hear their voice coming through in their writing
- encouraging their thought process through drawing
- teaching them how to use resources such as sound mats
- working alongside them: building a community feel within our classroom
- using symbols to represent skills the children should demonstrate (eg. capital letter: A)
A writing lesson looks similar to KS2:
- A mini lesson starts the session
- Quiet 10 minutes where everyone, including the teacher, is writing
- Conferencing/ continue to write
- Author’s Chair
During conferencing time the teacher uses symbols to help the children recognise the things they need to include in their writing. Using the symbols also means they can become proficient in self and peer marking.
KS1 and KS2
Mini lesson – a mini lesson is taught in each writing session which teaches something that the pupils can ‘drop in’ to their writing or supports their developing thinking of themselves as writers or their awareness of different writing processes.
Conferencing – teachers conference with children in turn or children who request it. Notes are made after the conference about advice given or learning discussed. Children who need special attention and support should be prioritised but each child should receive a conference at least once a week.
Author’s Chair – pupils share their work with the class and request advice and receive feedback from their peers.
Editing – lessons are given over to editing and improving work. Pupils need to do the thinking about what is missing, not the teacher. It is essential that there will be specific opportunities for pupils to review their work. This should be built into writing lessons so children are able to self- assess and edit their own work. Mini lessons should be provided to support children in CUPS (Capital letters, Usage and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling). Editing can happen at any stage of the writing process, not just at the end. Wherever possible, teachers should spend time with children reviewing their writing and talking about next steps.
This could be done as a group activity, individually during the lesson as the teacher moves around or individually at a separate time. The teacher has the most impact when they can discuss the writing and next steps with the child.
Children are not expected to copy out incorrect spellings several times. However, they are encouraged to copy correctly from the board/books, use the resources and spelling lists to help them, be taught to identify sight vocabulary and spot when a word looks wrong and to use dictionaries to self-correct. Once a spelling has been taught, or a spelling rule, children are expected to spell these words correctly across all writing. More ambitious vocabulary in the year group does not need to be corrected unless it is a specific topic word or mathematical vocabulary.
We use the term ‘invented spelling’ instead of spelling mistake in the children’s own writing, where spellings are not provided otherwise. We celebrate that a child has attempted the spelling and then support them in developing careful awareness of when they are using an invented spelling so they can substitute it with the authentic spelling. Spellings are set as part of homework.
Feedback Policy Approaches for Maths
The expectation of the mastery curriculum is that most of the class will be kept together and will master the same skills. Some children will be working at greater depth and can deepen and broaden their knowledge and understanding. Some children may need support to access the learning through many different forms: concrete resources, pictorial representations, additional practice, time with an adult, focus groups and table prompts such as word mats or multiplication squares.
Early Years (EY)
The approach to teaching mathematics in the Early Years comes from the understanding that maths is everywhere and is not confined to a set time or lesson. Adults model mathematical language through play, routines and daily tasks. Some mathematical concepts are specifically taught to the children during whole class sessions. Language and modelling are key to children becoming confident mathematicians. Children’s progress and development in maths is recorded through observations and assessed on Tapestry. This gives teachers the opportunity to see where children have secured a concept or may need further modelling or practice in certain areas.
Answers to questions may be accessible for the children to self mark, they may be read out verbally to the whole class or teachers may be rotating the classroom to make live assessments and provide verbal feedback. In the moment marking or verbal feedback is most beneficial for children in KS1 as written comments may not be read or understood and the children are able to immediately see how they are getting on. Teachers may prompt them to continue with the questions or move them on to additional challenges if they feel their learning is secure and ready to be applied.
Year 1 teachers produce an assessment sheet for each lesson as much of the work is practical. There is usually a pre-assessment question at the top of the sheet. This gives the teacher a brief overall idea of where the children stand before any learning has taken place. This often eliminates the need for more able children to unnecessarily work through fluency when something more challenging is needed.
The assessment sheet is then split into:
- Working towards
- Expected/ mastery
- Greater depth
In each section there will be an example of the activity/ question/ investigation the children at each ‘level’ will be working on during the lesson. Throughout the lesson children will move between the three columns. There is also a section at the bottom of the assessment sheet for children who have SEND or other needs and may therefore be working on something different.
Year 2 children start with practical work then move to working in their books through the week. Assessment sheets are used for practical lessons.
KS2 Self Checking
As with KS1, teachers have answers to problems available and can provide live assessments with verbal feedback but there is a greater emphasis on self-checking and reflecting on their own learning before moving on in KS2.
This means that after four or five calculations, pupils can check their answers themselves. That way, if they have a misconception or misunderstanding they can alert the teacher immediately. This avoids a situation where a child has worked through many problems but has done entirely the wrong thing. Self checking means that mistakes are realised ten minutes into the lesson rather than at the end. It’s so much better for the pupils to be able to monitor their learning and see how they are progressing. This approach also improves pupils’ confidence and reflectiveness because it encourages them to take more responsibility for their learning.
Teaching self checking involves teaching pupils to think deeply about the processes behind their learning and when you think deeply about something it is more likely to get stored in your long term memory. Most importantly, self-checking gives them the opportunity to identify whether their mistake was conceptual or whether it was a calculation or counting error. Children are encouraged to tell the teacher or write what the mistake was that they made and show that they tried again to improve their understanding. Self checking also enables the children to move to new skills rather than repeating ones they are already secure in.
Feedback Approaches for Foundation Subjects
We use a variety of approaches for feedback in foundation subjects. Pupils are constantly required to evaluate their own progress or work with a peer to assess work against the learning intention. Sometimes the whole class will be involved in giving feedback. Teachers and children will work together to set next steps for the learning. The feedback is always pertinent to the subject e.g. feedback in History will always be about the History learning and not about spelling or handwriting. Often an end of unit task or ‘hot task’ will be used to assess understanding. Our teachers are skilful at questioning pupils to gauge understanding and to set targets for the next step of the learning. As with English and Maths the most effective feedback is whilst and just after the pupils are working on the piece of work in question.
PART 2 – Summative Assessment at Dunmow St Mary’s
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
Early Years teachers carry out a baseline assessment of children in the first half term of their school life. This is used to measure progress. Throughout the year teachers and teaching assistants observe the development of children and track their progress. In the final term of YR the EYFS profile is completed for each child. Outcomes are shared with parents as well as reported on as a statutory assessment point. Pupils are assessed against the 17 areas of learning. If they are at expected level in all the prime areas of learning they have reached a good level of development (GLD).
Reading Y1 – 6
Children are taught Reading through the phonics scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. The Y1 children are given a phonics test in June which is a reading test consisting of some real words and some nonsense words. There is a standard to reach to pass this test and the results are reported on to parents and nationally. If children do not reach the expected standard they resit the test in Y2.
In KS2 children regularly have their reading speed checked. They need to be able to read extended texts of age appropriate standard at a rate of 90 words per minute.
Starting in the Spring term of Y1 the children have a termly reading test which assesses their comprehension of a text. In Y1, and Y3 – 5 the tests used are NFER tests. These tests result in a scaled score. A scaled score of 100 is the expected standard and a scaled score of 115 shows working at greater depth. SEN children may use tests from other year groups. The gap analysis tool is particularly useful in showing where individual children, groups of children, classes and cohorts have strengths or gaps and should be filled in and used to inform future planning.
Y2 and Y6 use past SATs papers and use online gap analysis programmes for these. They sit their reading SAT in May. For Y2 and Y6 a scaled score of 110 represents working at greater depth.
Writing assessment is built up over all of the child’s pieces of work. Teachers have a check list of all the age appropriate things they expect to see in the children’s writing. These are shared with the children. Once the skill has been taught, teachers expect to see evidence of the skill being used independently in the children’s writing several times before they say the skill is mastered.
Y2 and Y6 teachers need to also refer to the Teacher Assessment Frameworks.
Maths Year1 – Year 6
Children do a short, timed speedy maths quiz each day. This is predominantly of concepts they have already covered so that knowledge and skills are not forgotten. It also focuses on calculations so that a greater amount of time in maths lessons can be spent on reasoning and problem solving.
Children in Y2,3 and 4 have regular checks on their multiplication facts knowledge and speed of recall. We use the program ‘Times Tables Rock Stars’. Children in Y4 sit the national online multiplication check in June. The expectation is that by the end of Y4 all children know all tables facts up to 12×12.
Y1 and Y3 – 5 sit NFER tests in Maths each term. These tests result in a scaled score. A scaled score of 100 is the expected standard and a scaled score of 115 shows working at greater depth. SEN children may use tests from other year groups. The gap analysis tool is particularly useful in showing where individual children, groups of children, classes and cohorts have strengths or gaps.
Y2 and Y6 use past SATs papers. They sit their Maths SAT in May. In Y2 and Y6 a scaled score of 110 represents working at greater depth.
Teachers carry out half termly science assessments relating to the unit of work they have covered. The emerging, expected, exceeding statements have been provided by the science coordinator.
Foundation Subject Assessments
Foundation subject assessments are completed at the end of each half term. Children are assessed against skills taught at ‘working towards’ ‘expected’ or ‘greater depth’. The skills statements come from the school’s skills maps for each subject.
The school has its own tracking systems. These are updated three times per year following the assessment weeks in each term.