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Vision for Assessment for Learning at St Finian's from Assessment Co-Ordinator - Mrs Summerville Assistant Head

At St. Finian's we believe that it is our duty to provide learners with information about the progress they are making (assessment) and guide their subsequent efforts (learning). Some of this information will be given as verbal feedback during lessons and some may take place as written comments within marking and feedback, highlighting the next steps in their learning.

Assessment should be a continuous process in the classroom. When used effectively, assessment for learning increases learner’s motivation, self-esteem, independence, initiative, confidence, engagement in the assessment and learning process, thus improving attainment and achievement. By ensuring that children receive feedback, be it verbal or through quality marking, and adjustments to  planning are made by teachers following formative assessment, each child in the school will be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

At St. Finian's Catholic Primary School assessment for learning will take place by using the following key strategies:  

Our Growth Mindset Learning Ethos

At St. Finian's we are committed to developing in all pupils a 'growth mindset' to enable them to be successful learners. We do this by using the Guy Claxton model of 'Building Learning Power'. In Key Stage One children are introduced to 'learning puppets'. Each puppet focuses on a 'learning skills' which will assist them in becoming successful learners.

The 'learning puppets' and their 'learning skills' are : 

1. Christopher the Caterpillar – Concentrate (Resilience).                                              5. Hugh Hedgehog - Have a Go (Resilience)

2. Dominic Duck – Don’t Give Up (Resilience)                                                            6 Isaac Spider - Use Your Imagination (Resourcefulness)

3. Tabitha and Theodore Tortoises – Be Co-operative (Reciprocity)                                  7. Ivan Insect - Keep Improving (Reflectiveness)

4. Christian Camel - Be Curious (Resourcefulness)                                                        8. Edward Elephant – Enjoy Learning   (Reflectiveness)

In Reception Class and Year 1 these characters are developed over a period of time and the puppets are used as prompts to begin to develop the 'language of learning' in the very early years of school and make children aware of the 'learning skills ' they are employing during their learning.

By Year 2 learners are encouraged to think about the learning skills they are using during tasks - concentrating, 'don't give up', co-operating, 'being curious', 'having a go', 'using your imagination', 'keep on improving' and 'enjoying learning'. The emphasis is on the 'language of learning' which facilitates the transition into Key Stage 2, where the main focus is on the learning skills and learning muscles that pupils need to develop in order to 'build their learning power'. 

The four learning skills - resilience, reciprocity, reflectiveness and resourcefulness are broken down further into specific 'learning muscles'. These 'learning skills' and 'learning muscles' are constantly being referred to and pupils are asked to reflect on the 'learning muscles' they have used in specific tasks to help them succeed or improve. These 'learning skills' and 'learning muscles' are outlined below:

Resilience

Emotional Aspects of Learning

Absorption - Being able to lose yourself in learning

Managing Distractions - Creating your own best conditions for learning

Perseverance - Keep going in the face of difficulties

Noticing - Perceiving subtle nuances, patterns, details and experiences 

Resourcefulness

The cognitive aspects of learning

Questioning - Asking questions of yourself and others

Making Links  - Seeing connections

Imagining - Using your imagination and intuition

Capitalising - Making connections with a full range of resources from the wider world

Reasoning - Using logical and rational skills to work things out methodically

Reflectiveness

The strategic aspects of learning

Planning  - Thinking about the action you are going to take, the time and resources you will need.

Revising - Being flexible and changing your plans in the light of different circumstances

Sieving - Look at what is being learned- pulling out the essential features, carrying them forward to aid further learning.

Meta-Learning - Knowing yourself as a learner, how you learn best; how to talk about the learning process.

Reciprocity

The social aspects of learning

Interdependence - Knowing when it is appropriate to learn on your own or with others, and being able to stand your ground in a debate. 

Collaboration - Knowing how to manage yourself in the give and take of group ventures, respecting and recognising other view points. 

Empathy and Listening  - Listening to the point of view of others and being able to put yourself in their shoes. 

Imitation - Constructively learning from others whom you observe. 

Each class has their own 'Building Learning Power' board, sharing the 'learning skills' and 'learning muscles' that are currently being explored. These boards act as prompts to remind children to be reflective in their learning, thinking about what they have learnt and how they have learnt this. They also remind children of the skills that they need to continue to develop in order to improve their learning. 

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Making Learning Explicit

Teachers will ensure that learners are made fully aware of the 'learning intention' of each lesson so that children are able to articulate what they have learnt and the relevance of this. Teachers do this by displaying or discussing learning intentions, learning questions or learning objectives during a lesson. As well, teachers share or co-construct 'success criteria' with learners to ensure that children have a thorough understanding of how to achieve and progress within the lesson. Within lessons the sharing of the learning intention and success criteria can take a variety of forms but ultimately it shares with learners what they are learning and how they can achieve this. 

Using Effective Questioning Techniques

Teachers will encourage effective learning and questioning skills by; 

• Providing a high proportion of open questions 

• Providing time for pupils to think about and discuss their responses to questions 

• Providing supplementary questions to extend understanding 

• Provide questions that encourage learners to reflect on their own thinking 

• Providing opportunities for pupils to generate questions  

Learning Partners

‘Pupil talk is central to active learning. Establishing talk partners is often the first step teachers take in experimenting with formative assessment, as it is relatively straightforward to embark on and the impact can be seen immediately.’ (Shirley Clarke 2008)

At St. Finian’s our talk partners have been named ‘learning partners’ to reiterate that this ‘talk’ that occurs is related to learning and helps pupils to progress in their learning. The aim of ‘learning partners’ is to allow pupils the opportunity to constantly discuss and explain their thoughts, opinions, ideas and learning with one another. The use of ‘learning partners’ occurs at various times in lessons and teachers use a variety of strategies to group children into ‘learning partner’ pairs.

Using Marking and Feedback Strategies

Feedback is classed as any information that is provided to the performer of any action regarding that performance. For feedback to be effective it must be applicable to the learning, directly relate to the task set and the learner's next steps. 

To feedback effectively teachers will: 

• Give feedback regularly 

• Confirm when children are on the right track as well as giving suggestions for improvement and 'next steps'(which are the pupils’ targets that they are working on next)

• Ensure that feedback is given in a timely manner, when it is still relevant and allow learners sufficient time to respond to feedback

 

At St. Finian's teachers use a range of feedback strategies to enable learners to take the next steps in their learning, these include the following improvement prompts:

Reminder - giving the pupil a reminder of a strategy or concept eg. remember what happens to the digits when you divide by 10.

Question - asking the pupil a question to further their understanding of a concept

Directive - reminding the pupil of resources available to them to help them in their learning eg. look at the 'time connectives card' on your table add some of these to your writing to ensure you have used a variety of connectives.

An unfinished sentence - E.g. When we divide by 10 all the digits move  ...

Show an example - teachers provide the pupil with an example and ask them to use this to correct their mistakes

Self Assessment

Self assessment is an integral part of the ‘Assessment for Learning’ process. Our ‘growth mindset’ ethos and strong learning culture ensures that learners understand their role in the learning journey and teachers are constantly giving pupils the opportunity to reflect on their own learning. Pupils are asked to self-assess(reflect, examine, analyse, critique) their learning in a variety of different ways, including:

self-assessment checklist - children complete a checklist or answer questions about their understanding throughout a lesson/unit. Pupils are often given the opportunities to reflect on pieces of work they have completed and think about the features they feel meet the success criteria and areas that they would improve next time

sentence stems - children may be asked to complete a sentence stem, analysing the skills they have acquired in lessons eg. In this lesson I have learnt; or Now that I know how to ... I can ... . 

 - marking own work

Peer Assessment

Peer assessment allows pupils an opportunity to share their learning with their peers; in doing this pupils can clarify their own ideas and understanding of both the learning intention and the success criteria while assessing another pupil’s work. Pupils are given a 'checklist' of concepts or features to focus their thoughts during the 'peer assessment' process. The teacher devises this checklist based on the success criteria of the lesson/ unit. 

Learning Partners

‘Pupil talk is central to active learning. Establishing talk partners is often the first step teachers take in experimenting with formative assessment, as it is relatively straightforward to embark on and the impact can be seen immediately.’ (Shirley Clarke 2008)

At St. Finian’s our talk partners have been named ‘learning partners’ to reiterate that this ‘talk’ that occurs is related to learning and helps pupils to progress in their learning. The aim of ‘learning partners’ is to allow pupils the opportunity to constantly discuss and explain their thoughts, opinions, ideas and learning with one another. The use of ‘learning partners’ occurs at various times in lessons and teachers use a variety of strategies to group children into ‘learning partner’ pairs.

Next Steps and Mark Books

At St. Finian's, 'next steps’ are set throughout the journey of learning and punctuate the progression of a task. Next Steps provide valuable prompts for reflection and help the learner move forward in bite size chunks. They are most effective when they are set in the moment of learning and are created as a dual decison between the teacher and pupil. 

Next Steps are written in pupils’ books by the teacher as NS or VF (verbal feedback) and are referred to regularly. At the begining of a unit of work, the end goal is introduced so all learners have a view of the bigger picture, giving a context for their daily learning. Working Walls in the class room make reference to the overall unit aim e.g. 'Writing a Myth', as well as the smaller goals (learning intentions) that link to the daily or weekly task e.g. 'Using Adjectives to Describe a Mythical Character'. 

Teachers use mark books to record their ongoing assessment of childrens’ progress throughout the year. Annotations are made and records are kept of childrens’ achievements over a series of lessons so that the necessary support or challenge can be planned in for subsequent lessons.

Through our ‘Growth Mindset’ ethos and the learning skills that encapsulate this, classes also have ‘learning behaviour targets’ specific to the cohort; these build over time to create a toolbox of essential skills. These developing skills are referenced in ‘Building Learning Power’ displays in each class.

Working Walls

English and Maths Working Walls are used across the school to support learning. Working walls are used as a record of learning through a unit and are a constant reference point for teachers and children. Pupils are encouraged to refer to working walls to remind and scaffold their learning and prompt thinking about future learning. 

Working walls need to be:

relevant to current learning

- used as a resource to further learning 

interactive, involving pupils

- used to aid pupils' independent learning

Teaching and Marking Codes

Teachers use pink to highlight success and use a green pen for next steps – green for growth.. Marking responses are made by the pupils using a purple pen to highlight their engagement in the learning process.

The following marking codes are used in books when giving children feedback:-

NS – Next Steps – can also be demarcated as a magic wand for younger children

– Peer Assessment             

VF – Verbal Feedback given             

IG – Intervention Group       

I - Independent

TA - For work that has been supported by an adult (teacher or teaching assistant), making it explicit that this piece is not been completed independently and a brief reference about how the work was supported e.g. assistance to begin and then left to complete the task independently.  

Examples of Working Walls from around the school

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