When schools across the country were initially facing the prospect of widespread changes to assessment back in September 2014, the National College for Teaching & Leadership brought out a report entitled Beyond Levels. The report confirmed our market leading role delivering assessment solutions including a life without levels, “SIMS is the tracking tool that all schools will be using,” it stated. It’s a role we take seriously, because as schools adapt to the more challenging national curriculum and assessing in a world without levels, they want an assessment solution they can trust.
With the assessment changes inevitably prompting schools to adjust their daily practices, teacher workload also remains a key issue. After the results of the Workload Challenge revealed that 56% of teachers see recording, inputting, monitoring and analysing data as an unnecessary or unproductive task, the data management review group made some key recommendations for schools. The report suggests that it is the responsibility of the government, headteachers and teachers to reduce the burden of data collection.
One of the key points in the report focused on collecting data and encouraging schools to challenge themselves on the purpose and usefulness of that data. When considering or reviewing the data that your school is collecting, it’s important that you start with what you want to achieve and how it will support improved outcomes for pupils. Using data to inform teaching and learning will encourage and support pedagogical conversations, enthusing you as teachers to share what works well in your classroom.
Although developing new approaches to assessment may have initially increased the demands on schools, assessment without levels offers the potential for more appropriate, but less burdensome, assessment and reporting arrangements. Assessment should support teaching and learning and be driven by your school’s own assessment policy, reflecting the needs of your school. Consider what you are assessing – have you identified the outputs? Is there a process in place to inform parents, stakeholders and governors? Are you recording your 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. The changes to Ofsted’s school inspection framework support this, as Ofsted does not expect performance and pupil-tracking data to be presented in a particular format.
Drive efficiency in your school with SIMS Assessment
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 solution helps you however you choose to assess, in the detail that is right for you, helping you to inform teaching and learning. Whether it's 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 easy. Teachers can easily record grades, comments, strengths and next steps for pupils. With the ability to work more efficiently, you will have more time to focus on supporting pupil progress.