At Widcombe Infant School we use a range of techniques to assess the progress the children are making in order to support them effectively and to move forward with their learning.
We regularly undertake assessments of learning to make sure that individuals and groups of children are making progress and improving in their learning. All children have individual Assessment Books in which they complete independent English and Maths activities regularly throughout their infant education. This contributes to our monitoring of individual progress but also allows children and parents the opportunity to see the progress being made. In addition they help us as a school identify areas of learning that the school is successful in and areas which we would like to further develop. Children make progress in their learning at different rates and in different ways. It is important to recognise that different children have different strengths and talents. At our school we value the whole child and the progress they make, not just academically but socially, emotionally, physically and creatively.
Widcombe Infant School uses the national system for measuring attainment and progress. In Reception this is the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. The children are assessed against age bands in
- Prime Areas of Learning – Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
- Specific Areas of Learning – Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design.
The age bands are Birth-11 months, 8-20 months, 16-26 months, 22-36 months, 30-50 months and 40-60+ months. Most children enter Reception in the 30-50 months or 40-60+ months age bands. At the end of Reception children are assessed against the Early Learning Goal in each of the prime areas and specific areas. They should be meeting the Early Learning Goal which is the expected level. If they have not achieved the Early Learning Goal they are at the emerging level and if they have progressed past the Early Learning Goal they are at the exceeding level, already working in the National Curriculum.
In Reception the teachers regularly observe the children in their learning and play, and these observations are kept in individual Learning Diaries. These observations demonstrate independent learning and next steps we can provide to further extend the children’s interests and learning. They also help us identify groups which need different kinds of support.
When the children move into Year 1 and Year 2 their attainment and progress is measured against the National Curriculum objectives and is ongoing throughout the year. This allows teachers and parents to monitor how the children have moved on in their learning. In English and Mathematics children are assessed against their year group objectives and in all other subjects they are assessed against Key Stage 1 objectives. Key Stage 1 is made up of Year 1 and Year 2. The children are not assessed against the other children in the class. In regard to the objectives the assessment states whether they are below (not working on the year group/KS1 objective) working towards (achieving less than one third but less than two thirds of the objectives) developing (achieving two thirds of the objectives but less than all the objectives) secure (achieving all the objectives) or exceeding (working above the objectives).
In addition we assess the children's mastery of the curriculum which is the children's ability to apply their learning.
The children should have expected learning. If the children are not where they should be we still very much celebrate their achievements, as we firmly believe success breeds success. If children make less than expected progress additional teaching and strategies are put in place to support the child as this is a cause for concern. Regularly teachers moderate work together to ensure we are consistent in assessing standards and this is kept in portfolios for each subject.
We encourage the children to be engaged and involved in assessing their progress and setting future targets for their own learning. Not only do staff make comments on features the children have done well in and next steps showing how children could improve their work, the children also identify what they have done well/need help with or how they feel about their work. These are usually linked with the focus for a lesson and lead to overall targets for improvement. It is important the children know they can improve their learning through hard work and that mistakes can be a path to learning.
As part of the process of encouraging the children to move forward with their learning, we currently use target setting in the front of some of their books or on their group tables. In Writing and Maths it consists of ladders for children to work through to help them work out what they need to do to improve their work. In Year 2 the children are encouraged to take some responsibility for their own learning in terms of self-assessment, so will be asked to look at the aims for their learning, called success criteria, to check how they think they are doing and what they need to work on next. We try to encourage the children to think about their targets in particular for reading, writing and maths. We also ask them to reflect on how they feel they got on with different tasks as an indicator for the progress they have made in different lessons. This may take different forms depending on the task; a comment, a shape indicator or simply a ‘thumbs up, thumbs down’ approach. This systems works together with the on-going assessment and feedback the teachers make and give throughout the year, and helps us set clear and useful next steps for learning.
Children can have phases of progress when they move ahead rapidly and times when they are consolidating their position, gathering the skills and knowledge ready for the next move forward. Our pupils also progress differently through the recognised phases of child development with some reaching a point of maturity that can really help their learning before others. This is especially true of the younger children. Life experience and emotional issues are also a big role in a child’s academic progress. Communication between home and school is invaluable in this instance. Finally it is important that children do not feel under undue pressure from home or school to achieve certain standards as long as they are making their own progress and moving forward. We do not share standards with our children, the focus is always on the positive next step for each child.