Category Archives: #Assessment

Curriculum under the spotlight

The summer break is a good time for reflection about key aspects of school as well as planning next steps. I am taking this opportunity to blog as I reflect on our school curriculum, after all it is central to the day to day experience of our pupils in school so worthy of high regard and consideration.

I am writing this from the starting point of our school having been inspected by Ofsted in January 18 and am pleased that our curriculum was praised in terms of offering  “a high-quality curriculum to pupils. It is both motivating and exciting. In addition to English and mathematics, you offer a rich, imaginative and varied, learning experience that significantly contributes to developing pupils’ self-belief,confidence, personal development and life skills”. Ofsted Jan 18

I embrace some of  the increased freedom which is being offered to us around curriculum and assessment – the autonomy of being able to respond to the specific needs of the children in the school and establish a bespoke curriculum which meets their needs and an assessment system which effectively demonstrates progress and achievement. Understandingly however, with increased autonomy comes enhanced accountability and in addition to whether our assessment systems have the rigour and accuracy required, we are now finding our curriculum increasingly under the spotlight. Curriculum is likely to become an increased area of focus in Ofsted inspections

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector,  has talked about how Ofsted would be looking at how schools’ curriculum is impacting on pupils’ school experience and what makes a “really good curriculum”.

The school’s curriculum is organic. The position we are in today follows many years of review, changes and adaptations in relation to our school population first and foremost as well as local and national requirements. It is also not the work of one person. The curriculum is a whole school endeavour. Our senior leadership team are supported by forward thinking subject leaders and value staff meeting discussion giving input to the whole school team on aspects of curriculum development and how this is experienced by the pupils each day . This includes meetings of curriculum teams which include groups of teachers and teaching assistants planning and working together on curriculum areas including STEM, K+U, Health  and emotional well being, communication and language, Expressive arts and design and EYFS.

Our curriculum is relevant to the group of pupils and the context we are working in as well as underpinning the ethos and philosophy of  our school in terms of what we believe is important for our pupils to learn and therefore I would not expect it to be automatically transferable to other schools,  however I find it useful considering how others approach aspects of school improvement as a stimulus for review and discussion and I hope that maybe reading this might give others a similar opportunity to reflect on their own curriculum in a helpful way.

Where we are now

Core curriculum: We believe our children have an entitlement to a core curriculum of National Curriculum subject areas. In addition to Maths, English and Science, Foundation subjects are delivered in a topic based way through our spiral curriculum

Enhanced curriculumThe school enhances and enriches the core curriculum offered to the pupils in a range of ways including Open Futures, Rights Respecting Schools, ECO Schools, Forest Schools, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural, British Values, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning, peer massage, yoga, pupil voice, school council, and Friday Fun Clubs.

Personalised curriculum :

All children attending Camberwell Park School have an Education, Health and Care Plan. These outline their individual educational, health and social care needs, the provision they need to meet these and outcomes expected across the next stage of their life.  We see the EHCP as an integral part of the children’s curriculum planning and use the outcomes to identify the children MLT’s (my learning targets). The areas of personalisation include: Mobility, Behaviour, Characteristics of Learning, Communication, Life skills, Personal and social development and sensory skills. Our highly skilled staff then use the MLT’s and their own knowledge of the children to plan a personalised curriculum offer for each child.  This can include but not exclusively ; support plans from our multi-agency partners; pediatrician, school nurse, SaLT, Physio, OT,  specific subject intervention groups, opportunities for social development or opportunities for emotional development.  This was also acknowledge as a positive aspect of our work in our January inspection as in relation to our pupils’ EHCPs it states : “These goals are then broken down into small achievable steps, and a personalised curriculum is developed to enable the pupil to work towards achieving the goals”.  Ofsted Jan 18

As the needs of the pupils vary across the school and in different classes, teachers have autonomy over the structure of their timetables and the weighting they give to different areas of the curriculum in their timetables however they must be able to evidence how their timetable meets the individual needs of each of the pupils in their class.

Our next steps

The needs of our pupils are changing and it is essential that we continue to respond to this in terms of our school organisation and curriculum and therefore our ongoing programme of curriculum review will support subject leaders and curriculum teams to work with the leadership team in ensuring that the Intent of each area of the curriculum is clear, we implement the curriculum in a way that is meaningful to the pupils right across school and that we are able to measure the impact – the important ‘so what’ question  to make sure what we offered our pupils has made a difference in a way that is relevant to them.

 

Thank you for reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Measure what you value not value what you measure – our case studies

Some time ago I blogged on the issue of Measure what you value not value what you measure as it is increasingly a topic of discussion with regards to our pupils with SEND – how do we evidence progress in some of the areas we are so proud of for our learners and celebrate their achievement?

This blog focuses on one of the ways which we are doing this which is through Case Studies. I am blogging now as in recent discussions a few colleagues have asked me for information about how we put together what we are describing as a ‘gold standard’ case study – one which is rigorous and clear in evidencing progress. In the spirit of sharing – here is what we do!

At Camberwell Park School we are keen to evidence holistic pupil progress and have discussed and agreed 9 areas we feel are essential areas of learning for our pupils

i.e.

  • Core Subjects
  • Foundation Subjects
  • Mobility
  • Life skills
  • Personal and Social Development ( PSD)
  • Social, Moral, Spiritual and cultural education ( SMSC)
  • Communication
  • Behaviour
  • Characteristics of Learning

In order to demonstrate progress in these areas we have developed a set of case studies which includes a range of evidence sources.

To ensure the same rigour and high expectations are applied to our case studies as are with all other aspects of assessment, we have discussed and agreed what for us is a ‘GOLD STANDARD’ for putting together a case study:

 

  1. Overview of pupil info: Start by giving a very brief overview of the pupil (e.g. age, ethnicity, pupil premium) and their needs (e.g. SLD, Downs syndrome).
  2. Telling the story : The case study must tell the story from start to finish – clarity on the starting point – how was the child presenting? Needs / goals? How did we meet the needs and what were the outcomes?
  3. Easy to read format: The case study should be clear in presentation – use of headers, imagines, bullet points, bold and italicized writing to ensure all information is accessible and clear to the reader. The school logo should be included at the start and the key area of focus from the 9 areas above should be identified.  Arial font, size 12 should be used.
  4. Include real data: The case study should include real data – quantitative and qualitative. Quotes from others e.g parents / carers / members of the multi-agency team and where ever possible the pupils themselves.
  5. Links to evidence documents: Links to evidence documents e.g. end of year reports, EHCplans, video clips should be used. Word documents can be embedded.
  6. Summary A conclusion to draw the case study to a close – what was the overall impact?

 

I am sadly not able to share any completed case studies due to pupil confidentiality  . What I can tell you is that they now form part of a comprehensive both quantitative and qualitative assessment system in school and they have been successful both in terms of process as well as product – the professional dialogue of colleagues working together to write them has been invaluable as well as the amazing product of the completed case studies which very clearly demonstrate progress in all of the areas detailed above.

Hope this information is useful to colleagues

Thanks for reading

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

To P or not to P? That is the question : My response to the Rochford Review final report

So after a long time waiting the Rochford Review final report has been published bringing with it a series of 10 recommendations to be considered for implementation by the DfE (summary on page 7 of the report).

The report and it’s recommendations has been a big topic of conversation  with practitioners on SLD forum and some colleagues have blogged on the report already such as this helpful review from @cherrylkd. I am sure it will be something we will want to chat about on @SENexchange too!

It would be hard to disagree with the underlying  / guiding principles outlined on page 11 of the report – principles which underpin the work we are so passionate about with our learners with SEND. I appreciate however how they are spelled out for us, reminding us of their importance. It is hard to pick out ‘favourites’ from the list of 11  guiding principles however, the ones I highlighted reading through were that ‘every child should be able to demonstrate his / her attainment and progress’, ‘Parents/ carers should receive meaningful information about the achievement/ progress of their child and should be involved appropriately in assessment procedures’, ‘ Curriculum should drive assessment and not the other way round’, ‘It should be possible to assess the application of knowledge, understanding and skills in a range of different contexts’ and ‘The language used to describe the achievements and progress of these pupils should always be positive, inclusive and should be jargon free’.

The central focus of the report and the one we have all been waiting for is the recommendation regarding the future of P levels. We have been grappling with trying to use P levels for summative assessment of our pupil’s progress and this has become increasingly challenging with their mismatch with the revised National Curriculum. The majority of respondents to the review consultation agreed that P levels are no longer fit for purpose and it has been music to my ears to hear recommendations that any future system should acknowledge lateral as well as linear progress made by our pupils. Removing the statutory requirement to assess using P levels (recommendation 1, Pg 13 – 14) is welcomed.  In addition, Recommendation 3 ( Pg 16 – 17)  which  acknowledges the value of achievements in all 4 areas of need. At Camberwell Park School whilst continuing to use P levels as the statutory measure for core subjects, we have invested in developing our enhanced  curriculum ( how aspects such as being a Unicef Rights respecting school add value to our school) and our personalised curriculum ( giving teachers autonomy to be more flexible  in their timetables to respond to individual and small group pupil needs). This is particularly important to my mind when ensuring that we work towards the outcomes outlined in the child’s EHCP – something we are proud to say is embedded into our every day practice as identified in the peer review  we commissioned on this aspect of our work last year. Our holistic assessment therefore includes what for us is a ‘Gold standard case study’ which demonstrates progress in 9 areas: Core subjects, Foundation Subjects, mobility, Life skills, PSD, SMSC, Communication, Behaviour and Characteristics of learning. Our job now is to align these to the 7 area of engagement outlined in recommendation 4 (page 18 – 19 of the report).

I whole –  heartedly agree with the review with the review group members that where ever possible pupils should be included in the mainstream statutory assessment arrangements and as a school we had already adopted the recommendations from the interim review  including using Pre-key stage expectations for pupils working above P8. I also feel lucky that we have a good network with both mainstream and special schools in Manchester and with special schools across Greater Manchester where practitioners from our school moderate assessments / judgements made about pupil progress and attainment.  Recommendations 7 and 8 ( pages 24 / 25) reinforce the need for sharing good practice and quality assurance processes to be rigorous as we move forward in order for our judgements to have any credibility. I would urge mainstream and special schools to forge and strengthen these challenge and support relationships – there is so much we can learn from each other.

At this stage the review findings are recommendations – we await consultation and agreement from the DfE which I understand will be  in early 2017 with a view to implementation in summer 2018. There is clearly lots more work to be done – not least to decide as a school / school sector how we will apply the principles of assessing the 7 indicators of cognition and learning ( page 22) and assess these for pupils not engaging in subject specific learning ( a danger  if we are not careful of replacing one inappropriate linear assessment system with another!) – however – my vote is definitely – not to P! The Rochford review is a step in the right direction so come on DfE – give us the go ahead so we can get on with our work!