There is no doubt about it, 2015 has seen a year of unprecedented change where assessment is concerned. The academic year kicked off in 2014 with schools facing the unnerving challenge of moving away from assessing against the traditional system of levels, into the unknown.
Primary schools then faced the introduction of the new reception Baseline assessment, and although not technically statutory this year, the majority of schools opted in. This meant they have the flexibility of being measured on either attainment or progress at the end of Key Stage 1, rather than attainment only should they have chosen not to take part.
Growing in confidence
All challenges aside, during the year we have been supporting our schools and consulting with education professionals to help identify how SIMS Assessment can best support the changing needs of schools. A fundamental mindset change has been needed to shake off the ingrained levels system and we are now seeing schools embrace a more granular hands-on approach to formative assessment to support teaching and learning in the classroom without levels.
In my blog last month I highlighted the varying types of assessment that SIMS supports and I am delighted to say that the diverse and flexible nature of SIMS Assessment has been recognised in its nomination for a 2016 BETT award for ICT Tools for Teaching, Learning & Assessment.
Programmes of Study area
The new Programmes of Study area within SIMS Assessment gives teachers access to the entire National Curriculum Programmes of Study, including both the statutory and non-statutory guidance. Teachers can record formative assessments against any statement of the National Curriculum or provide summative judgements to indicate which phase of the curriculum pupils are working within.
Instant analysis is available on the data entry screen, so teachers always have sight of an individual’s progress towards end of year or school expectations. Quick access to this information means timely interventions can be introduced to support teaching, learning and the tracking of pupil progress.
What’s more, curriculum statements can be added or customised, as well as introducing new strand areas or subjects, such as RE, so schools can tailor the curriculum to suit their needs. Teach the curriculum however you choose and let SIMS provide the analysis based on your curriculum focus, tracking to support assessment best practice.
Supporting the transition from primary to secondary
Not only is SIMS Assessment providing the flexibility schools need but it also offers a common framework for schools to assess against. It also supports the mobility of pupils by giving schools the option to include formative assessments within the pupil Common Transfer File (CTF). As a result, if a pupil were to move to another primary school or onto secondary school, the information can go with them, highlighting what pupils know, and don’t yet know, in relation to the National Curriculum Programmes of Study. This helps schools to quickly identify gaps in knowledge and support future learning.
Resources for Key Stage 3 and 4
We have extended the Programme of Study into Key Stage 3, to encourage consistency and provide a national framework for assessing knowledge, skills and understanding against the curriculum being taught. We have also recently introduced new analysis resources for Key Stage 4 as a result of collaboration with the School Improvement Team. This provides analysis for 5A*-C, EBacc, Progress 8 and other performance measures. Schools can choose either to extend the Programme of Study into KS3 or bring down the GCSE grade system - SIMS Assessment is flexible enough to allow for both.
The challenges ahead
The next big challenge facing primary schools is the new style statutory reporting – look out for my next blog in the New Year for more on this.
In the meantime if you’ve already got SIMS Assessment and have not looked at how it's evolved over the past year, please take some time to review. There’s no additional charge so you can get started with these assessment resources straight away.
Want to learn more? Visit us at Bett 2016 and attend one of our assessment workshops for senior leaders, running 20-22nd January on stand B190.