Challenge and success: alternative approaches to assessment in the primary classroom

Primary classroom image

Alison Peacock (Wroxham Primary School)

Date: 12 Sep 2013 Venue: Hughes Hall Mortimer Road Cambridge CB1 2EW
Type: Seminar Fee: Free to attend

Hosted by the Network, this seminar welcomed Alison Peacock, head of a transformed primary school and a co-author of Creating Learning without Limits (2012), who shared some fascinating views on curriculum, pedagogy and autonomy in the primary classroom. 

Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development, opened the gathering by praising English schools as "exceptional institutions which have successfully secured high motivation and engagement with children." Tim expressed his concerns, however, that despite Assessment for Learning being promoted in both research and policy, in reality formative assessment continues to be underdeveloped. 

In her talk, Alison described how her school had adopted practices which challenged the use of national curriculum levels well before they were officially abandoned in the National Curriculum Review. She insisted that "if we get the curriculum right, if the children are highly engaged, if the teachers are excellent professionals, and if the parents are involved, when it comes to the formal part of assessment, the measures take care of themselves. It is about a rigour that comes from freedom." 

Alison raised issues with assessing children as young as 5 years old in order to determine and predict their ability in age 11, explaining that each child has had a different learning path set by their individual needs. Using examples from her school, Alison described how children learn at different speeds and said that the best way to assess each child is to record their own personal learning journey. In Alison’s school, development of 'self-referencing' amongst all pupils – 'what do I need to do to improve' – was established in preference to referencing to external benchmarks. This link between assessment model and pupil identity, between assessment and concepts of ability is fundamental to the approach which Alison has embedded in practice.

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Mortimer Road Cambridge CB1 2EW

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