In September last year the new curriculum was brought in, and with it came new expectations and freedom for teachers. Whilst it set high targets for how teachers should be teaching, it also gave them more flexibility about how they would teach their children the required subjects.
And the same goes for the grades. There are high standards expected when it comes to examination results, but how pupils are assessed is down to the individual schools. This not only gives teachers and schools the opportunity to teach the way they feel best suits their pupils, but also means that they can ensure they tailor the assessments to allow their children to achieve their potential.
There will still be national assessments at the end of key stages 1 and 2, to ensure comparisons can be made between schools and the curriculum is being taught correctly, but in-between these nation wide tests, the way in which children are tested is down unique to each school.
For key stages 1 and 2, the writing national examinations will include a grammar, punctuation and a spelling test, but not a specific writing test. Although these will still be set by examining bodies, they will not be marked externally, but by the teachers themselves and will give both pupils and teachers an indication of progress. They will be marked on a scale score system.
Alongside grade expectations, there will also be writing targets to be met at various stages throughout the primary curriculum. For example there are a list of words that pupils should be able to spell by the end of each school year.
These will increase incrementally and include ‘medicine’ and ‘knowledge’ for pupils in year 4, aged 8 and 9, and ‘accommodate’ and ‘rhythm’ by the age of 11. (For more information on the new curriculum make sure to read our piece which will provide you with all you need to know here – http://targetmaps.co.uk/primary-school-national-curriculum-2014/)
As well pupils being under the spotlight, there is also more focus on how teachers are performing, most importantly that what they are teaching, and the way in which they are testing the pupils reflects the new curriculum and is helping children to progress.
Although the tests themselves will be created by schools, there will still be performance indicators which teachers must use to design the tests, and these will be more demanding to ensure pupils are being pushed to reach their potential.
Assessments serve three main purposes for teachers, diagnostic, formative and summative. Firstly children are tested on what they already know of the subject, which can highlight areas that need more attention. Next assessments ensure that all children are learning, that doesn’t mean all pupils must learn at the same pace, but by sitting an assessment, teachers can see which pupils need help in which areas, rather than trying to find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Finally they can provide an indication of a child progress over a set period of time, and help teachers to alter and tailor their lessons to ensure all children succeed.
Once the tests have been marked, parents will be provided with their child’s score, along with their school’s, local and national averages to give a comparison. This is useful as it helps to indicate at what level their child is learning, whilst also giving a representation of the quality of teaching at their school.
Having an indication of how your local school is performing not only provides a comparison but can also be used for prospective parents to gauge whether a school will be suitable for the child.