As a curriculum manager or headteacher, you will need to ensure your school’s assessment for learning approach is a permanent and central part of everyday classroom practice throughout your school

This issue of Curriculum Briefing: Assessment for Learning: Targeting Success, shows you how to achieve this in practice. By bringing together advice from the experts, and practitioners in schools that have taken assessment for learning practice to the next level, you will be able to apply this knowledge to your school’s practice and take a structured approach to planning, so that your school can build a system that works and ensures consistency of practice across departments.

Assessment for Learning: Targeting Success is a 60-page report that is specially written to answer the central questions many curriculum managers will have about how to ensure ongoing progress when developing the use of assessment for learning in their own school. Assessment for Learning: Targeting Success will help you and your school:

  • understand what type of assessment for policy to develop and implement;
  • ensure your policy becomes an evolving working document rather than a static file that sits gathering dust on the staffroom shelf;
  • take the right approach to planning from the long-term view, to schemes of work, and classroom lesson plans;
  • develop an effective assessment for learning strategy which will make a real difference to how students learn by encouraging their involvement;
  • provide students feedback that will motivate and empower them to take the next steps on their learning journey;
  • gain an overview of what you are doing and what areas of assessment have to be improved, so that the assessment for learning provision is shaping across the whole school;
  • take assessment for learning practice to the next level, by using data intelligently to target students’ learning.

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SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

ACHIEVING A WHOLE-SCHOOL APPROACH Ensuring effective long-term assessment for learning

Assessment for learning brings long-term improvements if you put it at the centre of whole-school developments. Dr John Blanchard, Independent Consultant, Trainer and Researcher explores different approaches you can adopt for an effective assessment for learning policy, and shows how to take on board the students’ perspective to improve teaching routines and school systems so that effective assessment for learning practice is embedded across departments.

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THE VALUE OF ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING Overcoming tensions, harnessing the power

Lorna Earl, Associate Professor and Head of the International Centre for Educational Change, University of Toronto, Canada, looks at what assessment for learning is all about and how it has developed into an invaluable teaching and learning strategy, before advising curriculum managers on how to overcome tensions caused by conflicting demands that prevent staff from using it effectively. Removing these concerns will ensure you can achieve whole-school coverage in reality.

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CASE STUDY: ACHIEVING WHOLE-SCHOOL PRACTICE Follow the assessment for learning road: building a whole-school approach

Successful whole-school assessment for learning development invariably builds from good practice in one or two departments in certain year groups only and cascades from there, as was the case in the Hundred of Hoo School in Kent, when it became involved in the ‘Inside the black box’ research project. Graham McManus Assistant Head, shares how the school has developed its policy from there.

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EFFECTIVE PLANNING Planning for success

To ensure assessment for learning becomes an effective part of practice in classrooms throughout your school you need to plan for it at every stage. By explaining the three stages of planning –- from planning the long-term learning needs of your students, to providing the right approach through the scheme of work, and then ensuring lessons are handled well – students will be engaged in and challenged by assessment for learning. Fiona Street, Key Stage 3 Foundation Subjects Consultant outlines how to ensure effective planning throughout.

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CASE STUDY: PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM IMPROVEMENTS Taking assessment for learning to next level: cascading good practice

Involvement in the KS3 Foundation Subject strand prompted the humanities department at The Castle School in Thornbury to take a fresh look at its use of assessment for learning to develop a new approach that would ensure its long-term inclusion in classroom practice. One year on into implementation, Garry Atterton Head of the Humanities Faculty, and Eamonn Friel Head of History at The Castle School in Thornbury, reflect on the progress made so far, sharing strategies developed in one particular subject to illustrate how their approach works in practice.

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CASE STUDY: LESSON PLANNING FOR AFL Lessons in assessment for learning: following the right planStaff at Bournville School in Birmingham used an appraisal of their approach to teaching and learning as a springboard to develop explicit ways for teachers to incorporate assessment for learning in practice. Nicky Arber Director of Sixth Form, and Sarah Hubbard Head of Comunications Faculty at Bournville School, Birmingham, share how the school has developed a unique approach to lesson planning that ensures assessment for learning is incorporated in a meaningful way.

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EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK Words of encouragement – giving feedback that works

Giving the right type of feedback can make all the difference to a student’s future. Schools should inspire students to take more control of their own learning rather than making them switch off learning altogether. Liz Depper Primary Assessmant Adviser for Suffolk County Council, discusses the different elements to include to ensure your conversations with students about their learning take them forward rather than push them backwards.

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COLLECTING THE EVIDENCE Evidence is elementary: gathering the right clues

If you do not have the right evidence, then all efforts to promote assessment for learning will be ineffective. From what evidence to collect, how to interpret it in a reliable and valid way, and how to then record the results, Lorna Earl, Associate Professor and Head of the International Centre for Educational Change, University of Toronto, Canada,  uncovers the key aspects of being a good assessment for learning detective.

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EFFECTIVE USE OF DATA Targeting individual success

 At Garforth Community College, assessment for learning has been developed to such a degree that students are provided with their own individual learning programmes to help ensure their success. Paul Edwards Headteacher at Garforth Community College, in Leeds, explains how their unique approach to target-setting works so you can make similar strides in raising achievement. 

EVALUATING ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING PROGRESS Roadtesting your assessment for learning practice: finetuning for success

 Evaluating how well your staff are using assessment for learning in practice needs to be handled carefully so that you continue to win minds rather than turn teachers off. You need to become the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage, to ensure teachers work with you in improving your school’s use of this important teaching and learning strategy, writes Winifred Burke, a Freelance Researcher, Teacher and School Inspector, as she advises on how to achieve this in practice.

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CASE STUDY: ONGOING PROGRESS Achieving long-term development of assessment for learning

While developing effective assessment for learning policy provided a good starting point, the staff at Tonypandy Community College realised they needed to go much further than that. So they set up a project, also involving feeder primary schools, to look more closely at the positive impact assessment for learning could have on teaching and learning. Assistant Head Susan Burns describes how they have developed the effective approach in place today, evaluating each step of the way as they go to ensure they build on success.

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