Where relationships are at the heart of the school and
the school is at the heart of the community

Assessment of Learning –
the Key to Success

Assessment helps students, their families and the school to know whether each student’s learning is on track. At the Swanage School we use personal target setting, which means that each student decides – in consultation with teachers and parents – what his or her target is to be in each subject.

The progress of each student progress is assessed continuously and in various ways:

Formative assessment

What do we need to learn?

The purpose of formative assessment is to inform students, teacher and parents of the student’s level of understanding and so be able to focus learning/teaching/support accordingly.

  • Teachers need to know the level of each student’s understanding so they can then move their learning forward.
  • Students need to reflect on what they do and don’t understand to enable them to take ownership of their learning and be active in challenging themselves.

At The Swanage School formative assessment is an integral part of every lesson. What does this look like in class?

  • Spoken answers – the teacher identifies a student to ask rather than asking the class to raise their hands. The teacher will then use open questions such as ‘What makes you think that?’ ‘How did you get to that answer?’ ‘How does that compare to...?’
  • Tests and quizzes – to be effective in formative assessment these are short and regular
  • Written answers – using mini whiteboards or books
  • Involving students in deciding how their work should be assessed
  • Asking students to evaluate their own work and reflect on their learning - students use red pens to do this
  • Getting students to assess the work of their classmates - students use purple pens to do this

Learning Conversations

How you can help with formative assessment at home

At The Swanage School we believe a child’s parents/carers are an integral part of the learning process. We encourage parents to have regular ‘learning conversations’ with their son or daughter.

This is not a ‘nag’, where a parent chases up homework and so on. Rather it is a chance for your child to explain what they have learned and experienced during the school day. It might be that they explain a concept to you or an idea they had during a lesson.

For instance, you might ask: ‘So tell me about your favourite lesson/activity today... What was enjoyable about it?’, ‘What did you learn from it?’, ‘I’ve not heard of that, can you explain it to me?’, ‘That’s interesting, tell me some more...’, ‘Tell me about something you found difficult (and why). Can we work it out together?’

Summative Assessment

What have we learned so far?

Here the student, teacher and parent receive a benchmark of achievement. All students will be formally assessed at least once every term – for example with an end-of-unit test, a grade for a piece of project work or the results of a mock exam. Formal mock exams will take place prior to all external exams, either in the hall or in classrooms. The purpose is to monitor the progress and attainment your child is making. .

Authentic assessment

Going beyond tests to show real understanding

At the Swanage School we ask families to become actively engaged in the assessment process. Parents and families are invited to come into school and be guided through the children’s work. This may take the form of student presentations, exhibitions, media created and produced by the students, debates, performances and practical demonstrations.

Parents and family members will be encouraged to use assessment criteria to help judge the students’ work. This process enables parents to be involved with their son/daughter’s learning and help both parents and students develop a deeper understanding of the learning and assessment process.

Marking students’ work

Teacher assessment is marked in green pen and is often in addition to self-assessment or peer assessment. Students will be made aware of the criteria to achieve certain levels or grades so they can monitor their own progress.

The Swanage School Assessment Framework

Formal assessments are accompanied by an assessment framework. This identifies clearly what is expected for a student to achieve a certain grade. This is a very transparent approach and allows students (and parents) to understand fully what is expected of them and how to do well. All students are graded on the 9 - 1 GCSE scale, in all formal assessments.

As parents, you can help by asking your child about their assessments and ask to see the assessment grid (the sheet which shows what is needed for each grade) both before the assessment and afterwards. Look out for the pink and green highlights on your son/daughter's assessment grid.

Green = 'Seen' (things they have shown they can do

Pink = 'Think' (this is something to work on)

We have developed the Assessment Framework by evaluating that a Year 11 grade 9 (for example) students would have been able to achieve in Year 7. That then becomes the grading criteria to achieve grade 8 in Year 7.

GCSE Grading System

In 2016 the GSCE grading system was changed from the old A* to C grade to a new 9-1 scale, where grade 5 is a 'good pass rate' in the same way a 'C' was the good pass grade previously. The purpose of the change was to drive up standards nationally, so whilst grade 5 is a 'pass', it is actually a low'B'/high 'C' grade.

New grade from 2016   old grade equivalent

                 9                               A* plus

                 8                               A*

                 7                               A

                 6                               high B/low C

                 5                               low B/high C

                 4                               low C/D

                 3                               E

                 2                               F

                 1                               G

All assessments for all students use the GCSE grading system, so for example, a student in Year 7 will be given a GCSE grade. This does not mean that they would achieve that grade if they sat the GCSE that day, rather it means if they continue learning at the same rate until they sit their GCSE in Year 11, that is the most likely grade they will achieve then.