The purpose of this policy is to provide a comprehensive document to share with staff, governors, other professionals, families and other interested stakeholders. The policy incorporates the vision, values and aims for assessment when using an adapted curriculum and the specialised approaches required for teaching the pupils at Briarwood.
Due to the adapted curriculum at Briarwood, which is a broad and balanced approach that identifies and meets the variety of needs of our pupils, the curriculum, alongside specialist teaching approaches, provides consistency throughout the school, whilst recognising developmental and age related aspects to learning. Therefore we have adapted and created assessment systems which accurately and meaningfully allow us to support the progress of our pupils.
The policy document starts with describing the context, vision, values and aims. This underpins the fundamental need for new and adapted assessment methods to meet the needs of the pupils at Briarwood. It then describes the different forms of assessment that we use at different age milestones and for different subjects.
Rationale for new assessment systems
‘The commission encourages schools to make the most of the freedom to develop their own approaches to assessment and explore new methods of recording assessment information’ (Final report of the commission on assessment without levels)
In October 2017, The Rochford Review of statutory assessment for pupils working below national standardised testing set about listing a number of different recommendations. These recommendations were to ensure that pupils working below these levels can demonstrate attainment and progression within schools. In September 2017, the Government responded to the Rochford Review, the main change being the removal of P-levels by 2018-2019 academic year. Briarwood has already made a number of changes to assessment since 2014 and this policy aims to demonstrate how assessment takes place, show alignments with new national expectations as well as providing transparency and expectations for staff.
Briarwood school is a special school for pupils aged from 3 to 19. We are spread across 3 sites; The Pod our early years provision, Primary and Secondary. Our Post 16 department is co-located on the Primary site. We have 124 pupils across the age range. At Briarwood we support pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Autism (ASD) and children with Complex Needs.
Many pupils come from the East central area of Bristol though some children come from other areas in the city; our pupils have a diverse mix of nationalities and languages.
Due to the complex nature of the pupils that attend Briarwood, we offer a tailored approach to our curriculum; including academic learning, life skills and Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education. Therefore our assessment systems are in keeping with measuring the progress of pupils through this approach.
Vision, Values and Aims
“Enjoy, Engage, Learn”
We believe that Briarwood is a safe, happy and stimulating school that supports pupil’s individual needs. The staff and the school community work hard to ensure that a nurturing approach supports all pupils through their education, providing a bespoke approach to each child depending on their current needs.
At Briarwood all aspects of school life are designed to inspire and engage pupils, through a mix of a learning curriculum, creative approaches and essential life skills. The roles of communication and engagement are key to all we do and underpin our approach to learning.
Our assessment systems are therefore designed as a meaningful and reflective approach to support teachers in planning the best route for each individual. The overarching vision is that assessment should be used as a supportive measure that allows all progress, no matter how small, to be demonstrated and for each pupil to keep moving forward in their learning, however that may look.
When designing a curriculum that took account of all aspects of a pupil’s life, the assessment of such learning requires a bespoke approach. In keeping with new legislature and policies, specifically the Rochford Review: Final Report, Briarwood has relished the opportunity to adapt the curriculum (and thus assessment) in order to support the needs of the pupils;
‘Removing levels encourages schools to develop approaches to in-school assessment which are better tied to curriculum content and which do not restrict teaching solely to the specific content in the National curriculum, but encourage the wider exploration of subjects which results in higher attainment and greater enjoyment. Similarly the freedom to choose their own approaches to assessment is consistent with the freedom many schools have to develop and deliver their own curriculum and allows schools to ensure their curriculum and approach to assessment are aligned.’
(Final report of the commission on assessment without levels)
As a result, removal of the P scales as a measurement of progression has been adapted at Briarwood School. For the pupils, the new assessment systems provides the opportunity for pupils demonstrate depth of knowledge and understanding, as Ofsted 2015 states “As part of pupil’s progress, inspectors will consider the growth in pupil’s security, breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills.” This is especially important where pupils are studying life skills or targets that fall outside of traditional areas.
At Briarwood assessment aims to;
- Provide a baseline against which to measure attainment and progress in all areas, including the life skills and creative curriculum.
- Identify the learning needs of an individual pupil or a group of pupils.
- Inform planning, target setting and interventions.
- Assist with the development of quality teaching strategies which motivate pupils.
- Be accurate, reliable and consistent across the school using a range of evidence and strategies.
- Complies with statutory requirements.
- Gather and capture additional information necessary to provide a tailored education, of high quality to all pupils
- Inform parents and carers of their child’s experiences and achievements.
- Support the identification of barriers to learning and the development of strategies to overcome these.