As school leaders we tend to spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our own family. Walking into the staffroom on a Monday we can tell immediately if someone has had a relaxing weekend, or if someone isn’t feeling as positive as normal. The same can be said when we introduce anything new into the school. We know those team members who will enthusiastically come on board, those who will plod along with change, those who are vocal about change, and those who may need extra support. These nuances that make our team are vital to understand if any change is to be made in the school, or anything new is to be introduced.
The last couple of years have seen many changes in education, swings and roundabouts from the government and it’s easy to roll our eyes and think “what’s next..?”. However, if we’re constantly waiting for more information, or for the next change, then it’s very easy to lose where we are now as a school. Assessment faces the same problem, so many of us are waiting for change that we aren’t embracing the curriculum and assessment freedoms given to us in 2014 and that is then having an impact on our teachers being able to get on with their job.
When introducing any new assessment system across the school you need to make sure there is a strong and consistent roll out amongst teaching staff.
The schools that we work with have had the most success when they take the time to embed their assessment system across the school community. Having a strong rollout means all staff know how to use the system, are involved in its development and crucially know your assessment policy. For our schools Learning Ladders isn’t an ‘off the shelf’ assessment package. We encourage schools to take the time setting up their curriculum so it’s right for their school and so they have the opportunity to introduce the new system to their school community. If teachers don’t feel confident then they will either use the system in a way that isn’t intended, add to their workload to try and understand it or not use it at all. When any of these happen you have to ask if the system is adding any value to your school? Any new system can only be as successful as the amount of time you put into embedding it across the community.
If all of your staff buy-in to the changes, understand how to use the new approach and can see the benefit this will have on their teaching then you have laid sustainable foundations for your school.
"A new system for assessing pupils over time against a ‘ladder’ scale of building knowledge and skills is developing well, helping teachers to spot gaps in knowledge and understanding and plan accordingly. The ladder system is also giving pupils an increasingly well-developed understanding of their strengths and areas for development. Pupils’ books are regularly marked with helpful comments that usually work to direct pupils towards clear improvement or corrections."
Ofsted Inspection Report 2016, West Earlham Junior School: Good
Matt is the CEO of Learning Ladders and a former school teacher.