Are SEN schools doing too much assessment?
This seems like a strange question coming from a business that makes its money by selling pupil assessment software. But, because we provide the tools for more than 100 special schools in England, we get an interesting overview of what schools are actually doing in this area.
The same goes for the people at GL Assessment. So we were interested to read this article by their CEO, published in the TES Magazine.
GL Assessment provides tools primarily for mainstream schools but the situation in special needs is even more acute – especially now that teachers have the added burden of creating and measuring progress against an individualised set of targets for each child, based on their EHCP.
Earwig has been fully embedded in a number of special schools for more than two years, so we are now able to estimate that, once teachers are proficient at using it, the app and online tools cut the time and effort of taking evidence and dealing with assessment by about 50% against conventional methods. But in many schools, having a thorough review of your evidence and assessment strategy in the light of the question ‘Does this actually improve pupil outcomes?’ can probably save as much again.
The first thing I would look at is teaching evidence. The question here is ‘How much is enough?’. The Earwig app makes taking evidence quick and easy. But is still takes time and means more data to deal with. You do need to have some evidence of pupil progress, but you don’t need a daily record!
It is worth bearing in mind that the new Ofsted Inspection Framework, which came out in May, revealed two relevant changes to their inspection policy…
- From now on, Ofsted inspectors will not be able to ask to see your assessment data
- A new question for Heads is ‘What are you doing to reduce teacher workloads?’
So, this would be a good time to do that pupil assessment strategy review.
If you are not using Earwig, the first item on the agenda should be getting Earwig in to help assess your school’s needs. It’s free and will be the best thing you could do for your staff this year.