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National Curriculum

Improving assessment gives status to skills

Key stage 4 pupil in conversation with a teacher

Aim

Staff decided that more rigorous assessment would give status to skills, celebrate pupils’ progress made and help them identify clear targets for improvement.

Action

Pupils now assess themselves and each other over the course of several weeks to create rounded assessment profiles across different tasks.

Impact

Producing success criteria helped pupils understand the meaning of skills and better identify targets for improvement.

Oasis Academy Enfield has made assessment of progress an integral part of a motivating culture which rewards achievement.

Pupils felt they better understood why they were at a specific stage of progression and could therefore see how to improve beyond the general competency targets they had previously been given.

Oasis Academy Enfield is using the RSA Opening Minds curriculum that focuses primarily on developing young people's competencies or skills. The Opening Minds framework can be mapped to QCA’s personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS) framework.  

The school’s monitoring procedures indicated that although the teaching of skills was good across the school, assessment needed refining. Oasis Academy staff decided that more rigorous assessment would give status to skills, celebrate pupils’ progress and help them identify clear targets for improvement. The school set up a working party of staff and students to discuss the issue.

Time for reflection

The school already had a clearly defined format for day-to-day assessments: ‘two stars and a wish’. This means two things that went well, and one thing that could be improved, with particular reference to PLTS and the lesson objectives. Every module of work also has two assessment days, during which pupils carry out a range of practical activities and rate their application of skills on the RSMA scale (rarely, sometimes, mostly or always), culminating in a report agreed by the teacher and the pupil. In addition, there are five periodic learning review days a year during which the pupil, parent and a teacher (who focuses on providing advice relating to the PLTS framework) have a half-hour meeting to discuss the report in terms of attainment and skill development. The content of this discussion is recorded in the student’s personal learning plan, which then informs future teaching and learning.

After the working party’s discussion, the school developed RSMA success criteria for specific skill areas, and produced self, peer, teacher and parental assessment forms based on these criteria. Pupils now assess themselves and each other over the course of several weeks to create rounded assessment profiles across different tasks. In addition, teachers and parents make assessments on extended learning tasks.

Understanding progress

Producing the success criteria helped pupils understand the meaning of skills and identify targets for improvement. Pupils felt they better understood why they were at a specific stage of progression and could therefore see how to improve beyond the general competency targets they had previously been given.

The success criteria enabled teachers to explain attainment and skill development more clearly to parents, who are also now gradually building their understanding of the different skill areas. Teachers found that the self-assessment process itself helps the development of the reflective learners area of the PLTS framework.

Pupils felt a real sense of confidence in the reliability of their new skills progression criteria when they realised that self-, peer and teacher assessments all tallied closely.

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