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Assessment and feedback policy

Adopted: March 2019

Rationale

Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning, both to inform staff and pupils about progress and to give support and guidance on how to improve. It helps to build pupil confidence in what they know and motivates them to achieve their full potential.  It is a vital diagnostic tool for staff, and should provide concrete, specific information of the impact of their teaching and the progress of pupils.

Ofsted - Quality of Teaching (Outstanding): “Teachers provide pupils with incisive feedback, in line with the school’s assessment policy, about what pupils can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills. The pupils use this feedback effectively.” 

Further to that, all assessment and feedback activities should focus on the learning impact in relation to the time invested by the teacher and take into account the opportunity cost of that activity.

Therefore we do not mandate our teachers to do the following:

  • Write extensive feedback on pupils' work
  • Engage pupils in a ‘marking dialogue’ using different coloured pens
  • Stick in stickers or sheets with complicated tick boxes or codes
  • Adhere to a restrictive timetable dictating the regularity of marking

We do not believe that the approaches listed above necessarily have a positive impact on pupil progress commensurate with the time and effort they require of staff, and may be inappropriate or ineffective in certain subjects.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teachers-workload 

Expectations for summative assessment 

At Thetford Academy we believe that the curriculum is the model of progression and our summative assessments are designed on that basis.  We report summative assessments in the form of GCSE grades to Inspiration Trust at the end of each half term at KS4, and staff must therefore have completed at least one piece of work that it is appropriate to grade every half term (for example a formal test taken in controlled conditions, like a mock exam).  The precise nature of that assessment is dependent on the requirements of the curriculum subject and should be quality assured by curriculum leaders and subject specialist leads.

We report summative assessments for KS3 pupils each term.  These assessments are created by trust subject specialist leads for Y7 and by curriculum leaders in school for Y8-9. They are moderated by subject specialist leads/subject communities and are expected to assess the extent to which the expanding domain has been learned and retained in each subject throughout KS3.  The precise nature of that assessment is dependent on the requirements of the curriculum subject.  The assessments are graded with a percentage which can be related to both school and class average marks and are used to assess a pupil’s relative position within their cohort.

Summative assessments are intended to demonstrate the current achievement of pupils – they will be marked to a grade or percentage.  Although teachers may wish to analyse performance to identify areas of strength and weakness (i.e. question-level analysis), they are not expected to provide extensive and personalised written feedback from summative assessments to pupils.

Expectations for formative assessment

Formative assessment, or ‘responsive teaching’ (William/Fletcher-Wood), is used far more regularly than summative assessment. It is the main tool used by teachers to diagnose the effectiveness of their lessons and to plan their future teaching.  It is also the primary way that pupils gain the feedback they need to learn from their mistakes and to make rapid progress.

Formative assessment can take a variety of forms depending on the subject: it is therefore the responsibility of curriculum leaders to ensure they have devised a formative assessment ‘package’ that is appropriate for their subject in terms of format, content and regularity.

It is not the intention that formative assessment should lead to teachers providing extensive, personalised written feedback – strategies should be chosen on the basis that they demonstrate the most impact for the time and effort required to execute them.  Some strategies are designed for immediate diagnosis and re-teaching, others to assess retention of knowledge and others to sample performance in a specific task.  It is for departments and class teachers to determine the appropriate package for their subjects and their classes.

Suggested formative assessment strategies:    

  • Quizzing – factual recall questions
  • Multiple-choice questions – when well-constructed can help identify misconceptions
  • Use of mini-whiteboards – rapid checking of specific knowledge of whole groups
  • ‘Cold-Calling’ – Targeted questioning of individuals in preference to ‘hands-up’
  • Comprehension questions – checked and marked as a group 
  • Book sampling – Marking a selected group of books rather than a whole set
  • Whole class feedback on longer tasks – pupils receive generic feedback to act on, teachers can re-teach based on misconceptions and gaps in knowledge.

Responsibility for assessment 

At Thetford Academy every lesson includes assessment; therefore, every member of staff has a responsibility for assessment and should be actively planning for it in lessons. 

The class teacher has the responsibility for: 

  • Reporting to parents on the attainment and progress of pupils according to the Academy reporting schedule.
  • Ensuring that all pupils are summatively assessed every half term at KS4 and every term at KS3 and that outcomes are recorded centrally via SIMS.
  • Using formative assessment effectively in every lesson to help pupils to identify next steps towards progress in the subject. 
  • Sharing assessment criteria for tasks with pupils as appropriate. 
  • Maintaining effective records of pupil achievement and progress which can be accessed by other staff if necessary. 
  • Using assessment data to inform planning, lesson preparation and seating plans. 

The curriculum leader has the responsibility for: 

  • Developing a clear rationale for the intent and implementation of assessment and feedback within their curriculum area, demonstrating the ability to articulate this with precision and clarity.
  • Using data to analyse underachievement of individual pupils or classes.
  • Overseeing and monitoring assessment in his/her department, including contacting parents as and when it is necessary. 
  • Collating and analysing assessment data and tracking progress of individuals and classes within the department, acting swiftly to intervene where necessary. 
  • Ensuring that reports and tracking data are completed by the curriculum area. 
  • Include items on assessment in curriculum area meetings to ensure it has a high profile.
  • Conducting learning walks, lesson observations, surveys and interviews as part of the self-evaluation process (LOTS) to gain insight into the quality of assessment taking place in the curriculum area. 
  • Conducting work scrutinies regularly to monitor, highlight and share good practice within the curriculum area for self evaluation.
  • Ensuring that all staff in their curriculum area are complying with academy and curriculum area expectations for the regularity and quality of assessment.
  • Reporting on the quality of marking and assessment to SLT through the line management and self-evaluation processes.

SLT have the responsibility for: 

  • Monitoring their area of line management to have an overview of progress. 
  • Using data to analyse underachievement of individual pupils or classes. 
  • Contacting parents, where necessary, with regard to their child’s progress. 
  • Conducting work scrutinies in conjunction with the Curriculum Leader they line manage to monitor compliance with academy policies and support the evaluation of teaching and learning.
  • Taking action, with the Curriculum Leader to address underachievement and to keep the relevant Vice Principal informed of intervention strategies for individuals. 
  • Taking action, with the Curriculum Leader, to address non-compliance with the academy assessment and feedback policy and to keep the relevant Vice Principal informed of support provided for staff whose assessment and feedback does not meet the expectations of the academy. 
  • The Vice Principal (Curriculum) has the overall responsibility for the development of assessment policy and practice in the Academy. 

Appendices (below)

1) A series of articles and resources that are aligned with the above policies and provide teachers with further information and guidance on effective assessment and feedback.

2) Curriculum leaders have provided  a short description of the assessment package in their subject, commenting on:

  • Summative assessment at KS4
  • Summative assessment at KS3
  • Format, content, range and regularity of formative assessment in all years.

This will be updated yearly.