What the experts are say about Learning and Assessment Pathways:
“As the head of a National Teaching School, increasingly involved in School-to-School support, setting a clear framework for assessment which both evolves from and contributes to a vision and plan for achievement owned by all staff, is often the primary challenge for the heads we work with. I believe that the “Learning and Assessment Pathways” toolkit will enable heads to rise to this challenge. It provides a thorough but easy to navigate and manage process, grounded in excellent pedagogy and reference material. Most importantly, it will ensure a school has a structured method of auditing provision so it can strive to reach the highest achievement standards no matter whether you are, for example an outstanding school or a school that requires improvement.” Anita Warwick, Headteacher, Uplands Primary School, Forest Learning Alliance Teaching School
“This is an excellent tool to use for anything from a complete overhaul of your approach to assessment, to beefing up specific weaknesses. It is a very effective tool for analysing, reviewing and developing assessment to the benefit of all members of the learning community, including parents, teachers, leaders and pupils.” John Hucker: Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Education Assessors; Founder of Simple Solutions for Education
“This toolkit is a thorough survey of what makes for good assessment. Importantly, assessment is seen as a team effort where the values and aims of the individual school are properly recognised in securing good progress. This is the essence of best practice.” Richard Howard, Chair of National Education Trust
“It empowers teachers to make informed, professional decisions and so to become ‘master educators’ rather than technicians following set, and often immutable, procedures. Ann has widely researched this guidance document, using both the best of current educational theory and actual classroom practice; thus linking theory with the ‘grass roots’ of classroom practice.”
Belle Wallace, Director of TASC (Thinking Actively in a Social Context) International; a member of the Executive Committee for WCGTC (World Council for Gifted and Talented Children) and visiting professor to universities worldwide; past President of NACE
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Learning and Assessment Pathways will help you to:
- Develop your assessment practices from a range of starting points, according to school priorities
- Use a range of audit tools and discussion cards that are already proving successful for other schools
- Secure access to proven assessment expertise including national and international research, as well as contributions from schools
- Lead focused, effective improvement, as confirmed by leaders who are already using the materials
How it works
The toolkit is structured around 6 pathways, each providing a specific starting point where you can begin to evaluate and improve practice.
You simply choose the pathway that is most appropriate to the school’s context and current priorities. Each pathway is focused around a key question and provides links across the toolkit to be used as required.
Use a concise whole school audit of current practice and impact, to identify what aspects are effective and durable and where improvements can be made.
Review your vision, values and aspirations for assessment, providing the touchstone to guide improvement planning.
Evaluate how well you create and sustain a culture of high expectations and achievement, purposefully addressing barriers to learning.
Consider the purpose, validity and use of assessment data, so there is clarity in the use of existing and new processes.
Get to the heart of how well your assessment practices are integrated into teaching and learning to secure progress.
Draw together your framework for assessment in ways that are clear for parents/carers and staff, considering how well you use the 6 strategies to secure consistency.
Resources at your fingertips
School leaders using these materials have told us how important it is for leaders to be able to access a concise summary of key points, a range of relevant resources to use, and links to important, relevant research. So each section provides:
- The backdrop to inform dialogue and review
- Key questions
- An Audit and Development Tool and/or Discussion and Development Cards to focus and support professional dialogue
- A ‘Relevant Research Resource List’, with links supporting easy access to national documentation
- Further reading to assist an in-depth focus on a specific aspect
The toolkit is structured around a loose leaf file with a USB that contains over 60 additional resources, including audit templates, evaluation summary documents, professional development power-points serving as a skeleton on which to build tailored training, best practice guidance on Pupil Premium and model frameworks.
The modern educational environment calls on you to take a holistic approach to assessment. This resource will support your school, giving you the tools to evolve your current provision, share effective assessment practices, plan progressively and construct or refine a well-informed cohesive framework for assessment.
Bob Cox, Educational Consultant and Director of ‘Searching for Excellence Ltd’
The clue to the kind of support this excellent publication will give your school lies in the wording. The ‘Pathways’ to better learning are varied, interesting and clearly presented. The ‘toolkit’ approach allows you to conduct a needs analysis to find what best suits your school. It could be the key questions in each pathway or the ‘impact’ boxes on a skeleton audit or activity cards for discussion.
In an educational environment where there is much debate about ‘beyond levels’, Ann O’Hara’s rigorous and practical ideas will help you to find the resources and thinking you need. Major researchers on assessment like Hattie, Wiliam and Dweck are referenced but Ann O’Hara condenses modern thinking into her own very detailed guide to effectiveness.
Some of the pro-formas like ‘where are the gaps?’will alert you to key auditing areas and there are many case studies, like the one on dialogic talk, which model examples and processes for classroom practice. Many schools will value the eight core strategies audit to understand the specific steps needed to plan for assessment in new ways.
This is a toolkit to use interactively: skim and explore the file and the disc and you are guaranteed to find the right signposting for your internal discussions as well as the rigour to ensure your assessment systems raise standards.
The writing is of a true educationist: one who facilitates, supports and inspires, suggesting many pathways from which schools can discover their best route!
Do I like learning and assessment pathways tool kit? Yes. Does it set out a nuanced, broad and balanced curriculum? No. Does it give you a ready-made assessment grid with clear criteria ready for you to just punch in numbers? No. But that is why I like it.
John Hucker, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Education Assessors and Founder of Simple Solutions for Education
It is a very effective tool for analysing, reviewing and developing assessment to the benefit of all members of the learning community, including parents, teachers, leaders and pupils. It stands on its own as a coursebook for CPD, yet it is a powerful tool for experienced school leaders. It brings together some of the best contemporary thinking on the subject of assessment, but gives your school as a whole the confidence to grow its own culture, structure and voice, that will withstand the closest of scrutinies.
Now don’t be misled by the title. This toolkit is not hot on learning pathways. It is about assessment, which doesn’t exist without the learning and must impact on the learning to have any value, but it is about assessment. The learning to which it refers is generally the national curriculum. This is a real strength in England, where the levels have been whisked away from beneath our feet. So, this is a well-timed, very helpful piece of kit.
Is there a but? Well, perhaps. Where is that aspect of assessments that leads us to question the value of what we are teaching? After all, we must provide a broad and balanced curriculum, not just the bits we are given. I guess the best answer is in the fact that we are guided to start with our own vision, values and principles, thus moulding our content. We are then asked to ensure that said vision, values and principles are intrinsic to our assessment framework, so maybe we judge what it is that we teach by our own values.
I found the extras that comes with the file very helpful. The audit skeletons for each pathway are there. Individuals or groups can print off copies to complete and collate, or if you are a technophile like me, you can do all that on your laptop. You can also view some very interesting PowerPoint presentations that enrich your understanding of the philosophies behind the pathways.
As a head, I would not only want this on my shelf, but also use it. I would have one of my team get to know it inside and out, so that we can make best use of it for our circumstances.
Belle Wallace, Director of TASC (Thinking Actively in a Social Context) International.
Ann O’Hara’s professional background and long experience make her eminently capable of producing a valuable guidance document that enables teachers to reflect on their educational practice. It is truly a document that empowers teachers to make informed, professional decisions and so to become ‘master educators’ rather than technicians following set, and often immutable, procedures.
Ann has widely researched this guidance document,using both the best of current educational theory and actual classroom practice; thus linking theory with the ‘grassroots’ of classroom practice drawn from a consortium of schools.
The resource is specifically designed as a tool management kit that audits current practices in order to refine and extend learning and assessment pathways (LAP).
The text is beautifully colour-coded and clearly laid out making it an easily negotiated reference. Sections include:
- Templates for a skeleton audit of current practice and its impact;
- Principles for a framework and strategic forward planning;
- Guidelines for developing a culture of high expectations and removing barriers to learning;
- Mapping a cycle of assessment with accuracy, and professional reflection and judgement;
- Integrating assessment procedures, using 8 core strategies, target setting and reaching the intended goals;
- Using 6 strategies for consistency and evolving excellence.
Congratulations, Ann, on an incisive and extremely coherent document that encapsulates ‘best teacher and learner educational practice’ that is in line with current theory on how ‘teachers best teach’ and how ‘learners best learn’!
I commend this guidance document as an excellent tool – its sound research base, clear guidelines, immediate relevance and practicality, make it an essential document for all teachers and teacher-trainers.