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The scope of this essay is going to focus primarily on assessment (Appendix 1-Concept Map). However, it is important to be aware that leading authorities in education (Department for Education and Skills) such as Hopkins who recognises that for pupils to realise their full potential that "the most powerful lever we can pull at the moment to achieve personalised learning is assessment for learning" (Hopkins, 2007). Therefore where personalised learning is interdependent upon assessment this essay will explore this in relation to the progress that Bonner Primary School is making in for its pupils.
Bonner Primary school is predominately two thirds of children from Bangladeshi heritage children will have barriers towards assessment, therefore they need to have teachers who understand the progression their learning and who will be able to support their learning across the curriculum (Headington, 2003, p.38).
Background to Bonner Primary School
Any detailed analysis of a schools philosophy and approach to educating children, it is important that it is evidential against the context of where the school is situated and the social context that it works in.
Bonner Primary School is a foundation with a history of over 130 year education. It is situated in the heart of the East-End of London, historically an area of great deprivation. Although the East-end has economical regeneration e.g. Canary Warf, 2012 Olympic Legacy. Tower Hamlets still significant deprivation. Using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2010) Tower Hamlet is the 7th most deprived local authority district in England out of 326. Bonner Primary is situated on the board of Bethnal Green with the local wards have 60-79% of children living in income deprived families (Appendix Map). The school itself has been relocated from it historic Victorian building to an adjacent site with modern facilities in a new build.
The most recent OfSTED report (2007) rated the school as outstanding. This is against a background of inner city location with much over crowed accommodation. Four out of five pupils come from minority ethnic background, by far the largest group being Bangladeshi with English being an additional language. 51.3% of pupil are eligible for free school dinners a very high proportion (OfSTED, 2007).
Despite this the report states "this excellent school provides an outstanding education for its pupils. The key to its success is the dynamic and incisive leadership of the headteacher, who is supported by an extremely effective leadership team. Together, they have created a culture in which children believe in themselves and have the motivation to do their very best." (OfSTED, 2007, p.2)
Assessment and personalised learning (http://www.bonner.towerhamlets.sch.uk/pmipla.php) would appear to be the corner stone of the schools outstanding achievement with the philosophy engaging the senior management team, teachers, teaching assistants, pupils and parents.
What assessments are there?
There are many different types of assessment: diagnostic which helps to identifies pupil's current performance, formative assessment also known as Assessment for Learning (AfL), this type of assessment aids learning. Summative Assessment is known as Assesment of Learning (AoL) and the assessment confirms the teacher's opinion of what the children have learned and the progress made (Hayes, 2007, p.284), and evaluative assessment this is see how teachers or institutions are performing. A recent and new method of assessment is Assessing Pupils progress (APP). This assessment method has helped teachers as it has provided a structure in order for them to make judgements about the National Curriculum Levels achieved by their pupils (Harlen, et al, 2012). However, it is not the assessment itself which is summative, formative, evaluative, or diagnostic it is the way that the information collected is used (Weeden, Winter and Broadfoot, 2002).
Research on assessment has shown how it can affect learning both positively and negatively (Harlen, 2004). Black and William (1998) reported that when assessment is used formatively it can support learning and raise standards of achievement especially on low-achieving students. Research by Harten and Deakin-Crick (2002) reported that summative assessment includes high stakes and reduces pupil's motivation and enjoyment for learning.
Validity and Reliability of Formative and Summative Assessments
One of the main arguments for both formative and summative assessment is whether these types of assessment are deemed to be valid and reliable.
Harlen (2004) defines validity as "validity refers to what is assessed and how well this corresponds with the behaviour or construct that it is intended to assess" and
The House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee (HoCCSFC) (2008) define validity as "tests in fact measure what it is claimed that they measure".
A valid formative assessment is when the aim to improve learning leads to actual improvements (Stobart, 2012, p.235). Factors that are involved in ensuring valid formative assessments are: the cultural and learning context, the classroom environment has to be supportive, the feedback to learners has to be valuable and both learners and teachers need to be clear on where they need to go (Stobart, 2012, p. 241).
Valuable feedback either oral or written is ensuring that it is linked back to the success critieria and has to be in response to the task set (Schofield, 2011). The success criteria could be split up into two different parts so the children know what it is- WALT (We are learning today) and WILT (What I am looking for) (Clarke, 2001). Positive feedback followed by questioning develops the child's self-esteem and creates evidence of good practice, which can then be developed to other children (Schofield, 2011).
However, Harrison (2009) has identified three key problems with written feedback: written feedback can lack detail required to provide direction for improvement, the written feedback is occasionally detached from the activity which is being assessed and the thinking which has taken place in the pupil's head has been pushed aside by the other experiences they had in-between and some schools still expect teacher to grade work with either the National Curriculum level or systems devised by the school, research has shown that giving grades produces no learning gain in itself (Harrison, 2009).
According to The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER cited in (HoCCSFC, 2008) Key Stage Tests (SATS) would be valid if they "gave an accurate and useful indication of student's English, science or maths attainment in term of the National Curriculum Levels". The English test neglects speaking and listening whilst the science completely ignores scientific enquiry and the maths test does not taken into account using and applying mathematics (NFER cited in HoCCSFC 2008). The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (cited in (HoCCSFC, 2008) recognised that tests can only measure a limited range of achievement in specific subjects on a single occasion and they cannot effectively cover some significant aspects of learning.
Reliability according to the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee (2008) is the "ability to produce the same outcome for learners who reach the same level of performance." Black, Gardener and William (2012) have argued that the reliability of national tests and testing systems is limited as the tests/testing systems are based on a restricted sample of a pupil's attainment. For a testing system to be controlled and affordable there should only be a limited number of questions which should be answered in a given time on a given day HoCCSFC, 2008).
What is education/assessment for?
Assessment data has become a 'proxy measure' to facilitate judgements on the quality of different elements within the education system: teachers, head teachers, support services, local authorities and the government (Mansell, James, and the Assesment Reform Group, 2009).
Using a selection of assessment methods together with clarity and openness about what is being assessed and how is not only more reasonable but also supports learning, this is true for both formative and summative assessment (Gipps and Stobart, 2004).
NEED TO EXPAND
Personal Philosophy of Education -Child-centred, holistic approach, Differences and diversity, Constructivist theory, Learning takes time.
Personal philosophy of assessment Informal and formal, Qualitative, continuous
Unless teachers use the results to modify their practice, teaching approach and curriculum content, assessment is of little value (Hayes, 2007, p.271). The analysis of assessment data helps the members of staff within the school to point out the specific weakness for individual pupils and difficulties in topics for the whole class which can help to differentiate the pupil's work, to provide accurate targets for individual pupils leading to personalised learning (Kirkup, et al, 2005). Personalised learning is 'tailoring' the education to the individual's needs, interests, ensuring every pupil achieves and reaches the highest standards possible despite the pupils background or circumstances (DCSF, 2007). Bonner Primary School moved strongly towards personalised learning, which Hopkins (2004) believes to be a powerful means of assisting teachers to tailor their teaching to their pupils so they get the best improvement and to involve, motivate and help their pupils with the next steps in their learning (Hopkins, 2004).
Teachers can encourage pupils to think about their own learning through the use of self-assessment and according to Harrison (2009) learning can be enhanced. Self-assessment is a significant part in the learning process as it assists pupils to determine targets appropriate for their learning (Harrison, 2009).
A key indicator of an effective school is setting challenging targets and making good use of the arrangements for assessing and tracking pupils' progress to raise standards' (CfBT, 2009), this is what Bonner Primary School has done by using the class, group and individual targets extensively and through the headteacher highlighting for everyone to think about the performance of the different groups, individuals, classes and the school (OfSTED, 2009).
The analysis of assessment data can help the school by tracking pupil's progress; it can help inform the teaching, learning and planning happening throughout the school (Hayes, 2007, p.271).The data can help set targets for the school and it can help with the comparison of progression between individuals/groups/subjects and schools (Kirkup, et al, 2005). Bonner Primary School involves parents in their children's learning and the school explains to the parents how progressed is assessed and how individual children are supported to learn (OfSTED, 2009).
The DFES maintains that performance tables have been instrumental in raising standards in England and has no plans to abolish them (Primary Science, 2003).
At Government level the analysis of assessment data can help with managing performance within the school, it can help with transitions and transfers within different key stages or onto secondary school (Kirkup, et al, 2005). The analysis of the data can help Ofsted make their judgements as to whether the school is outstanding (Isaacs, 2010).
Through using assessments and the data, Bonner Primary School can identify the underachieving pupils, notifying the government/local educational authority (LEAS), allows the LEAS and government to provide extra support for the school. Extra support may include: booster groups, literacy strategies such as Reading Recovery or Additional Literacy Support, changing the teaching programme or the curriculum, numeracy strategies such as Springboard (Kirkup, et al, 2005).
A national assessment scale was developed to indicate pupil's progress in English as an Additional Language with links to the National Curriculum (QCA, 2000).
Bonner Primary School has moved towards personalised learning within the curriculum and is enriched by a wide variety of experiences which are taught by enthusiastic teachers. Personalised learning was launched as the new "Teaching and Learning" style in the five year strategy for Children and Learners (DfES, 2004) it has been claimed that personalised learning is the "big idea" (Pollard and James, 2004) for education in England (Courcier, 2007)..
Personalised learning consists of 5 components: assessment for learning, teaching and learning strategies, curriculum entitlement and choice, a student centred approach to school organisation, strong partnership beyond the school (DfES, 2004).
Personalised learning has been linked recently to the "Every Child Matters" and it is also seen as having an essential role in enhancing outcomes for the disadvantaged children (TLRP, 2004). The 'Every Child Matters' agenda has five outcomes: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and economic well-being (DfES, 2003).