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In recent years there has been an unprecedented amount of change in assessment arrangements for primary schools.
We have seen the abolition of national curriculum levels and the introduction of new KS1 and KS2 scaled score tests. We have also witnessed two government reversals – on plans to introduce baseline assessment for reception pupils, and to scrap the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. Is it any surprise that schools are finding things challenging at the present time?
With these assessment changes inevitably prompting schools to adjust their daily practices, teacher workload has remained a key issue. The results of the Workload Challenge reveal that 56% of teachers see recording, inputting, monitoring and analysing data as an unnecessary or unproductive task. The Data Management Review Group suggested in its subsequent report that it is the responsibility of the government, headteachers and teachers alike to reduce the burden of data collection.
One of the key points raised in the report was that schools need to challenge themselves on the purpose and usefulness of their data collection. Indeed, when considering or reviewing the data your school collects, it is important to first establish what you want to achieve, and how it will support improved outcomes for pupils. When data is used appropriately to inform teaching and learning, it will encourage and support pedagogical conversations, enthusing you as teachers to share what works well in your classroom.
The need to develop new assessment approaches may have initially increased the demands placed on schools, but assessment without levels ultimately offers the potential for more suitable and less burdensome, assessment and reporting arrangements. Teaching and learning should be both supported and driven by an assessment policy that reflects the needs of the school. Consider first what you are assessing – have you identified the outputs? Is there a process in place to inform parents, stakeholders and governors? Are you recording the resulting information efficiently?
Don’t do more than you have to do – you want to reduce your workload, and recording copious amounts of data could be more of a hindrance than a help. Last year’s changes to Ofsted’s school inspection framework support this, as Ofsted no longer expects performance and pupil-tracking data to be presented in a particular format.
The use of technology is important for keeping workload to a minimum. Recent research we carried out revealed that 85% of teachers feel progress-tracking technology positively impacts on their workload when it comes to monitoring pupil progress.
The Bett award-winning SIMS Assessment and SIMS Teacher app can help you, however you choose to assess, in the level of detail that’s right for you, helping you to inform your teaching and learning.
Whether it be via a tablet device in the classroom, online through our hosted services or from a PC in school, you can assess against the knowledge, skills and understanding being taught. You can focus on specific topic content for the term, and record pupils’ strengths and next steps for learning as part of day-to-day ongoing assessment activities – all helping to drive efficiency in your school.
The SIMS Teacher app allows for quick data entry, helping to reduce teacher workload. The app makes formative and summative pupil assessment fast and straightforward. The resulting efficiency gains will give you more time to focus on supporting pupil progress, make timely interventions where required, and ultimately improve pupil outcomes.
For further advice and information on how SIMS can support your school’s assessment strategy and reduce your workload, call 0800 170 7005.
Watch the video below to learn more about the SIMS Assessment solution.
A year ago we thought – assessment without levels, what on earth will that be like? But now we know, and we feel really confident using SIMS Assessment
– Jayne Mullane, Headteacher, Mersey Vale Primary School
Read the full case study here
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