Starting points and support
This case study looks at how a secondary mathematics team planned their implementation of Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP), including the starting points for planning and how the school generated support for their APP project.
The school has a strong background in Assessment for Learning (AfL) and the department decided to build upon this experience through a six-week project to 'promote and develop APP practice'. This original project involved six of the 11 mathematics teachers in the department, who agreed to try out the APP process for 20 pupils in Year 9. The participating teachers introduced additional teaching activities designed to encourage mathematical dialogue in lessons, along with the use of more probing questioning. They hoped that this richer source of assessment information could then feed into a periodic assessment exercise at the end of the six weeks where the APP process, including moderation, could be explored.
Support to introduce APP
The project enjoyed considerable support from the LA mathematics consultant. He visited the school regularly throughout the six weeks, providing support that ranged from holding initial meetings with teachers and the senior leadership team, through helping individual teachers with their planning, observing lessons and providing feedback, and finally supporting the moderation process and the evaluation of the project.
There was a parallel project at the school focusing on English and both departmental teams felt that a great deal was gained from sharing practice between the subjects. Strategies such as joint meetings and joint learning walks helped to share effective practice between the two teams. The difference in subject cultures was seen as enriching the experience for both departments. For example, the mathematics teachers felt that seeing English teachers building a whole lesson around a single word written on the board was a revelation. The mathematics subject leader said, 'We actually realised that we might be able to do a similar thing in our own subject.' The mathematics team also felt that the positive attitude and support of their colleagues in the English department was instrumental in maintaining the APP project's momentum.