Well, I never thought it would happen, but I have just completed my first set of Pupil Progress Meeting paperwork based on our trial assessment system using ARE. It has taken a lot of time, ink, paper, highlighters and, most importantly, help, but we got there. If I’m completely honest, we still have a way to go with reading and maths (our judgements were based partly around the dreaded tests this time around – but only partly, not exclusively), but this is due to a turnaround on my part at the 11th hour. However, we know where we are going, we are confident in our judgements and we will have plenty of evidence for the next Assessment Point.
With hindsight, we were probably wrong to try and make the transition mid-year, but with a new Head starting in September, we felt that a new leadership team, curriculum and assessment approach may have been too much to deal with. We were probably right. However, now we have a system in place, we are almost willing the months to fly past so we can start from square one with a new year group and get consistency across the school. Hopefully, life will be easier when we are all teaching from the same curriculum, so we are all talking in the same terms and working towards the same end. I am sure I will come up against some resistance from the staff, as we will need a complete change in the way we evidence our judgements (my children are constantly baffled by the random circling, underlining and highlighting that appears in their books. To be honest, so am I at times!). I can imagine some teachers feeling that I am increasing their workload. Heaven knows, that’s the last thing I want to do: whatever I ask them to do, I have to do myself. I don’t think I’m adding to workload at all, just changing it. I think Assessment Points will become less stressful – just collating information formally. We should also avoid those little ‘surprises’ of children who may have slipped through the net for a few weeks. I’m sure, for a while, we will have plenty of children to report on (50% of my class feature on my writing Pupil Progress proforma!), but that’s no reflection on our teaching or their learning. They will be playing ‘catchup’ for a while, until we have had a good run at teaching the new curriculum. Parents will need to understand this: they may well see a supposed drop in their child’s performance, which is bound to induce slight panic and a not-so-slight outcry. As we make this transition, communication is going to be key across the school, for staff, for children and for parents. It may have taken 6 months to actually get some semblance of an assessment system in one year group, but this journey is only just beginning. I just have everything crossed that the outcomes from the “Teacher led” Commission on levels, or even from the election in May, don’t stop us in our tracks or change our direction.
For now, though, it works. I’m not going to make any changes unless I come up against problems. I’m sure we’ll make minor tweaks over the next few weeks and months, but I will be introducing it to the staff in September. And most importantly, for the time being at least, I’m going to stop reading about what others are doing. Assessment envy is a bad thing: I’m sticking with what I’ve got!