It’s with a lot of excitement and a lot of nervous tension that I have begun to see pictures of the new ResearchEd Assessment book appear over the weekend. When Sarah asked me to contribute, I was stunned. Having recently moved schools, I had felt my educational expertise dwindle as I tried to get a handle on a new curriculum and a new educational system. As a result, I was really, really nervous to write as I didn’t consider myself expert enough to write, especially knowing that Dylan William was also a contributor to the book. What followed was an incredibly busy term with mocks and marking, which left little time for writing, all adding to a state of nervous tension.
During that month, I pondered my thoughts on assessment long and hard. And every time I thought about assessment, I found myself going back to the curriculum – an area I feel slightly more expert in. The phrase ‘curriculum as the progression model’ sat with me, and I pondered and pondered until I solidified my thoughts that curriculum design and assessment really do go hand in hand.
I thought about good curriculum design, something I have been mulling over after swapping one education system for another and decided that good curriculum design is focused on the triangulation (new educational buzz word) of key concepts underpinned by expert knowledge and skill acquisition. I argue, therefore, in the first part of the chapter about how key concepts can provide us with an over-arching progression framework; how we need to consider how we layer knowledge across the year groups and sequence this effectively (in order to build schema) and how progression grids can help us focus on the acquirement and development of skills over time.
In the second half of the chapter, I focus in on formative assessment. Formative assessment, for me, is where we enliven the progression model. I once again argue that the sequencing of what we teach is critical and refer to much of Hattie and Clarke’s work about the use of explicit de-contextualised success criteria to support pupils in being able to understand and assess their own work, especially when used with models of the expected standard. And then finally, I talk about the importance of practice: guided, deliberate and independent and consider some of the different ways in which this can be done. Finally, and sadly, too briefly, I argue for the importance of oracy in the formative assessment process – something that I feel often gets overlooked.
Writing the chapter – mostly during a holiday to La Spezia – turned out to be a really enjoyable process and enabled me to consolidate my own thinking around curriculum and assessment. I have to thank Daisy Christodoulou, Mary Myatt, Tom Sherrington, John Hattie, Shirley Clarke, Charlie Pearson, Claire Hill, Susan Strachan and Louisa Enstone for giving me all the ideas. I also need to thank Sarah Donarski and Tom Bennett for giving me the opportunity to write.
In essence it is a collation of their work. This is something I have become very good at – assimilating the best practice from across networks to bring together a model to use within the classroom and across departments.
I would love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read the chapter. My attention is now firmly on the use of technology within our classrooms…an area of particular importance given the current climate.