Reporting and Feedback
Assessment, whether via tests and examinations or teacher observations, is most useful when the results are shared, evaluated and used as the basis for improvement. In this sense any assessment should be an assessment for learning.
For an assessment to be constructive children should know what they are doing well and in which areas they could improve. This is the essence of feedback. It should take place in an environment in which children feel supported and encouraged as well as safe and secure.
When children are doing well, or have done something well, they need to know that their achievements will be recognised, acknowledged and praised. In almost every case, every piece of work, every presentation, every test there is something to be praised. Children need to know that ‘doing a good job’ means something. Ideally, praise will encourage them to go on to still higher achievements. With this in mind, it is important that praise is constructive and open-ended; it should leave an opening to permit greater achievement. It should not be finite and closed, such as “you’re brilliant”; because where does a child go from there?
Similarly, in every case, there are things that could have been improved. Children need to feel sufficiently safe to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. But they need to be clear on the areas for improvement and, most importantly, they need to know how to improve; they need to know what to do.
When we think about feedback we tend to imagine parent-teacher conferences, reports, etc. We have all of this at the BOS, but our most important feedback is given to children, in the classroom and on a day-to-day basis. Constructive feedback in this situation enables a child to incorporate it immediately, without the stress of mum or dad judging them and in a familiar environment in which they feel comfortable.
For the record, in Early years, with parents, we review every child’s learning journey every term and finish the year with a comprehensive report. In Key Stage 1 we issue reports at the end of each term. In Key Stage 2 we issue Effort and Attainment grades every half-term and a comprehensive report at the end of the year. We also hold parent-teacher conferences at the end of every term. In addition, we release the Durham University CEM data to parents at the end of the year.