What's the use of collecting data if we don't maximise its potential and make it work from year to year?
By Lucy Davies, Headteacher, The Firs School, Chester
What is best practice for transferring assessment information from one year to the next? In pre-digital days I would often start the year with no data whatsoever on any one of the pupils in my class, which delayed their learning progress and made for piles and piles of unused paper data and tests neglected in cupboards somewhere! Nowadays all of our assessment data is held online, transferred to our school MIS and is seemingly impossible to get away from. However as soon as your class moves away from you and you are no longer teaching them how do you make sure that all of your hard won data continues to work for your pupils?
At The Firs we use GL Assessment’s Complete Digital Solution alongside other summative data and also daily formative assessment. Much is held online. Often class teachers also have extensive notes written in their own way that they have built up over the academic year. It's crucial that this knowledge is handed on to the next teacher in a way that makes sense and is useful. Some schools have already finished for the summer but it's never too early to plan in a strategy for next summer by thinking carefully about what has just occurred.
Did your teachers have time, real time, to sit down and talk through their data with the next/previous teachers? How was their more informal knowledge about each pupil passed on? Is the next teacher fully aware of any outside issues which may impact a certain pupil's progress in September? What has happened to the analysis carried out by middle leaders on cross school subjects in assessments such as the Progress Tests in English, Maths and Science? Did you plan in time to discuss any trends from this analysis and how these will be tackled in the new year?
This year we still didn't have enough time to transfer information in the depth we would have liked but at least it was a planned priority. Staff meetings were cancelled earlier in the term but staff were expected to produce a middle leader report highlighting trends in their subject which have led to staff training schedules for the new year. The middle leaders will be feeding back relevant findings on one of the two INSET days at the start of term.
The second September INSET day is a new initiative; one for safeguarding and classroom set up and one for meaningful transfer of assessment data and careful planning accordingly.
In the final weeks of term staff were encouraged to visit their new class and 'get a feel' for how they learn and chat informally with both the pupils and teacher about learning styles. In the last week of term the SLT covered classes to allow teachers time to sit down and talk through individual pupils and their needs.
What's the use of collecting data if we don't maximise its potential and make it work from year to year? Think ahead and plan in a few opportunities to allow meaningful reflection and transfer of information - don't let those cupboards get full again!