Is there a way for Trusts to assess less – but better?

To understand where children stand as they enter secondary school in Year 7, Trusts need to know students’ strengths and weaknesses to identify their potential as well as any hidden barriers to learning.

Parents, naturally, are also keen that their children build on whatever they have learned at primary school and are given the best possible start at their new secondary school.

But how can this be done simply and without putting undue stress on either teachers or students? Trusts understandably do not want to replace one accountability straitjacket – forcing children onto a premature GCSE flight path – with another, high-stakes assessment at Key Stage 3.

As Kieran Scanlon, Principal of Sir Robert Woodard Academy, part of the Woodard Academies Trust, says, Trusts “want to assess progress in a way that doesn’t limit teacher creativity or add to teacher workload”. We should use quality assessment – infrequently – to feed into teaching and learning.

Trusts have some specific requirements. They need to assess in a way that allows them to make reliable, comparative judgements between schools in the group and nationally. They also need to be able to benchmark their curriculum at KS3 to know what impact it is having.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The important thing to bear in mind, says Hilary Fine, Head of Product at GL Assessment, is there is no reason why assessment should be intrinsically onerous for teachers or stressful for students. “Assessment should be smart, reliable and easy to use. It shouldn’t be a burden to teachers. So digital, standardised assessment that is robust and allows teachers to compare their children nationally is ideal.”

Is there a common, consistent way to assess across schools at KS3 so that you can know what impact your KS3 curriculum is having? To discover what good assessment looks like at Key Stage 3 and to see why it could be the solution for your Trust, download the full report.