This evening, I read a tweet from Louise Dance exclaiming the power of Twitter. I have to wholeheartedly agree with her. Several months ago, after sharing a previous blog asking for support with developing a new assessment system, Michael Tidd put me in touch with the White Horse Federation. That simple tweet started a conversation between myself and Simon Cowley, and led to a meeting where he, Louise and Alison Capstick shared their newly developed (and particularly simple but brilliant) Band Progression Sheets. Here began a relationship between their schools and ours which I hope will be further developed in the future.
Simon talked us through how they had sat down as a Federation and developed the Band Progressions Sheets and how they are being used. We talked about how they could be used in our school, as a stand-alone assessment system but also alongside Target Tracker to monitor the progress of our children. Even though the Band Progression Sheets were still being developed and tweaked, I took some of them back to school to trial with my children. After having gone through one assessment point and approaching our second, it is very clear that these sheets work. We have come across a few problems along the way, as we have had to completely change the way that we assess our children, and we are still perfecting our approach, but the sheets work. Two weeks ago, I introduced them to the staff. I was expecting some opposition from them, but there was none. They can see that the system clearly works and will benefit our children greatly, as we will be so much more confident in recognising the strengths and weaknesses. They can see that these detailed assessments will inform our planning, especially as we are intending to tailor these plans far more to the needs of groups and individuals. There is so much uncertainty around assessments in schools at the moment, that I think the staff appreciate the fact that we have a definite system in place for my year group, and that we have ironed out teething problems ready for the rest of the school to join us in September.
I am incredibly excited to now be able to share the Band Progression Sheets with the rest of the school: already, several members of staff have asked for copies of theirs so they can get to grips with them. I never thought I would see it, but there does seem to be a bit of a buzz around assessments at school! Today, I went to visit Mountford Manor to see how Louise and her team use the Band Progression Sheets in the classroom. I came away further enthused about assessment and with more ideas to take back to the staff at my school. On top of that, I have come home with lots of other ideas that I’m going to poach: activities for the classroom, display ideas, challenges for the children, and a serious case of classroom envy! The school was an amazing place. Bright, vibrant, and full of incredibly motivated and focussed children. And of course, I met some fantastic teachers. Louise and her team were some of the most enthusiastic people I have come across for a long time. They are an absolute credit to the school, to the White Horse Federation and to our profession.
None of this, the ideas, the assessments, the visits, the new friendships, would have been possible without Twitter. The power it has and the opportunities it can lead to are amazing. If you aren’t a Tweacher yet, here’s my advice. Do it! Find some teachers you know, go through their follower/following lists and get stuck in! Who knows where it will lead.