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Wallington High School for Girls

Wallington High School for Girls

'A strong learning community. Pupils are proud of their school. The broad curriculum and high prior attainment of pupils lead to strong achievement.' OFSTED 2019

New approach to Assessment - June Newsletter

This year, teachers at Wallington High School for Girls have been rolling out our new approach to assessment, which focuses less on summative judgements (i.e. grades) and more on progress, using tests as a tool to move student learning forward. This doesn’t mean students are being assessed any less than they used to – in fact, we expect an increase. However, infrequent formal tests that assess a large amount of the curriculum are being replaced with frequent, low-stakes tests that teachers and students use to identify and close learning gaps. This move is well supported by educational research, particularly the celebrated work of Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the UCL Institute of Education, Dylan Wiliam, who has demonstrated the positive impact formative assessment can have on student outcomes.

Apart from educational research, the shift in emphasis from summative to formative assessment was also born from a concern that students were less interested in learning and more interested in performance (i.e. grades and how they compared to their peers). Given that we are a selective school, this is no surprise. Like many grammar schools in the area, we firmly believe that to develop a true love of learning and provide our students with the best chance of achieving their potential, we needed to adopt an approach to assessment that encouraged a growth mindset and placed learning, not grades, centre stage. This doesn’t mean we have removed formal summative assessments; departments are still expected to complete these at least once a year. However, there is now a much greater emphasis on using assessment as a tool not simply to measure, but to move learning forward.

It is still early days, and we will closely monitor the impact of the new approach, with an eye to making changes where necessary. However, it is pleasing to note that student feedback evidences a significant change and uptake in formative assessment practices in class. It is no small task to change school culture, but we hope our new approach to assessment will play a key role in moving us to a much richer, healthier, and productive view of learning that isn’t bound by grades, which in the long run will ultimately lead to better outcomes, both academic and pastoral, for all. If you would like to read our new assessment policy. It can be found here.