Earlier this week, the government published its latest response to the review of assessment in primary schools. The full report can be downloaded here. In primary education, we are used to constant change. We have experienced numerous changes in the assessment system since SATs were first introduced in 1990 for all seven year olds. The response paper has recommended that SATs for seven year olds be scrapped by 2023 and that the methodology for assessing writing in Y6 be changed this year. It also recommends the introduction of a times tables test in Y4. The check will be introduced in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.
As we do with all changes, we will look at them and adapt our practice accordingly. We have to comply with the accountability agenda without compromising our broad and balanced curriculum offer. For some pupils in some schools, Y6 has become a ‘preparation for SATs’ year. This is not the case at our school. We do prepare the children, but it is important that their last year at primary school is full of rich experiences and opportunities. For instance, during this last week they have enjoyed our celebration of Roald Dahl day (see the picture that accompanies this blog!); they have left school to become evacuees at Stockport Air Raid Shelters and then next week they will be going to Robinwood to experience their residential adventure holiday.
Professor John Hattie is a researcher in education. He is Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has conducted extensive research into what works in education and has become one of the most influential academics in education today.
In his work, Hattie analyses the effects of numerous strategies and approaches on pupil achievement. His analysis has some surprising findings. What he does believe, however, is this:
“What does matter is teachers having a mind frame in which they see it as their role to evaluate their effect on learning.”
This seems an obvious statement but to do it successfully is not so easy. Teachers and other school staff need to see themselves as learners. Constant evaluation of their teaching and its effectiveness is key. It is too easy to collect a bank of teaching resources and approaches and stick to ‘what you know’. Those of you who have had a number of children go through our school will know that this is not our approach. We are always researching and looking for answers to that important question of how to improve children’s learning.
In our School Development Plan this year, we are looking at how we can improve the range and quality of what we are calling ‘pupil products’. These are the outcomes of learning. Of course, many of these products will be in the children’s books but we also want to consider how we will use technology and the range of products of learning that are not written down. It will be an exciting challenge to develop this research with our staff and with our pupils. We will look to share this work with you on a daily and weekly basis through our twitter feed @unsworthprimary and through this website.