PUPIL ASSESSMENT IN SEND IS IN A STATE OF FLUX
When Earwig started life five years ago as a teaching evidence and assessment tool for schools, I had no idea that we would soon become the biggest repository of information about special needs pupil assessment in the country. But that seems to be the situation.
It happened like this…
About five years ago we started building a software package for schools to improve the whole process of formative assessment and teaching evidence, to make it easier for teachers and enable easy, fast and elegant reporting of school activity and pupil outcomes. This was welcomed by mainstream schools but proved to be an absolute boon for special schools, where the task of formative assessment and the associated teaching evidence, is a much more complex one.
Of particular value was the fact that the Earwig software is ‘framework agnostic’. It works with whatever curriculum or assessment scheme you want to use – and as many as you need. The result was that schools came to us with all their favourite teaching and assessment schemes and we loaded these into Earwig. We now have more than one hundred and are loading new ones at the rate of four or five a month.
More importantly, we also spent many hours in discussion with the SLTs at special schools around the country, discussing their particular approach to pupil assessment in the light of the various changes of direction led by the DfE in recent years. We have also been able to monitor the way schools actually use the frameworks and grading schemes that they have selected from the Earwig SEND Framework Menu or built for themselves. This overview of the panoply of different approaches adopted by school Heads, together with our interaction with the Parliamentary Select Committee on SEND Education and the Assessment Policy Department of the DfE, has provided us with a unique perspective of what is actually happening in SEND assessment right now and is likely to happen in the future.
We are fortunate to have been joined by Roland Bugler, previously of CASPA, who has twelve years’ experience of advising on SEND assessment around the country and who will be in charge of distilling all this information into a new version of the Earwig SEND Assessment Framework Menu which can provide advice as well as lists of curriculum and grading options.
Our many discussions with Heads from tiny specialist schools up to large SEN-based MATs, have revealed both that there is a wide spectrum of views about issues like
- Whether or not to try and retain some of the structure and comparability which will be lost as P-Levels fade.
- How to connect what is being taught and assessed in the classroom with IEPs based on individual EHC Plans.
- Whether to make a start on measuring engagement, rather than achievement, below P3, in advance of the expected DfE recommendations.
- The importance of teaching evidence to back all this up.
- What one does about preparing for assessment against the Pre-KS Standards at the end of KS1 and 2.
- The importance of engaging parents in what goes on in school.
Over the next few months I will be sharing with you some of the insights that we have gained during this process and will be happy to hear your views and moderate a conversation between schools around the country.
To supplement this, we will be hosting seminars dealing with specific issues that schools may have with SEND assessment in the light of the new Ofsted Inspection Framework and future DfE pronouncements on the subject. More on this soon.
CEO, Earwig Academic