We had a school visit today, the purpose of which was to observe a school with a really creative cross-curricular approach, as well as to find out more about formative assessment in action. It was a really good visit, and a very inspirational school, even more so as an NQT who survived the course last year is teaching there and was able to offer some much valued advice!
The school is clearly dedicated to ensuring that children are confident, self-assessing learners with a strong growth mindset towards learning. No child should be fearful or embarrassed of their level, but should instead use it as a way of challenging and enabling themselves to become better learners. The displays were extremely visual, and a school tour by Year 6 showed that he children really engage and remember with the visual, interactive topic work. Topics or projects are taught half-termly and really hook the class in; they can be based on a book, an enterprise topic or can be a ‘Mantel of the Expert’, the latter of which is extremely popular. Children are put in the role of, for example, NASA engineers; they are given a challenge and through D&T, ICT, Science, English etc. they build rockets, write instructions, work out analysis for conditions on another planet – all with the end result of an interactive activity; they also make personal ‘log’ books of their work so they have a nice topic book to take home and to show their learning – something to be proud of.
The Deputy Headteacher was a fan of Shirley Clarke’s formative assessment strategy, and stressed the need for KS1 infant children to have visual marks that they have devised so that they can quickly and easily see what they have done right and what they need to remember in future work; further up the school this can still be incorporated but with the expectation that children can also read their lesson objectives and teacher comments.
The KS2 teachers use Challenge and Choice (Mild, Medium, Spicy) for their classes – much like is done at my placement school. The different challenges are on the board, along with the level they achieve (i.e. 2c-3a). Children can then mark their own work and clearly see the targets and specifics of the task in order to reach the correct levels. The school feels children really must know what is happening when they are marked and shouldn’t be unrealistic but should themselves know where they need to go and try their hardest to get there.
Overall it was a fantastic visit, but I really can’t wait to go back to our school which starts with a Pirate Themed Fancy Dress Day! Huzzah!!