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Evaluation article: Know your strengths Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Evaluation article: Getting personal  with CPD Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Evaluation article: Parent View — an update Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Evaluation article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Evaluation article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Evaluation article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Published: Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Summary

  • Baseline Assessment was introduced in September 2015 for children entering the reception year at primary school.
  • A report has been published investigating how well the Baseline Assessment has been received by schools.
  • One of the aims of Baseline Assessment has been the benefits for those schools with lower attainment on entry and to spot underachievement early on.
  • There is concern that assessment in early years could be counterproductive in terms of low expectations and labelling of underperforming children.

The report They Are Children… not Robots, not Machines: The Introduction of Reception Baseline Assessment was jointly commissioned by the ATL and NUT. Following the introduction of Baseline Assessment in primary schools in September 2015 they wanted to investigate teachers’ experiences and views of the new form of assessment.

The assessment takes place during the first few weeks of the autumn term with children entering the Reception year. It is technically voluntary but schools feel under pressure to do it. The use of the Baseline Assessment has long-term implications for schools if it remains.

One of these is the allocation of funding. The Baseline Assessment will replace the EYFSP data as the basis for the allocation of low prior attainment funding to primary and infant schools from 2016.

The assessments have been put together by private providers. From the original approved list of six, only three were able to continue. These included:

  • Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Durham University (CEM)
  • Early Excellence
  • National Foundation for Educational research (NFER).

The option of having different providers makes any comparison between schools difficult. This is the first time that private providers have been used in this way with most national assessments such as SATs being delivered by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA).

Particularly popular among schools was the Early Excellence Baseline with over 70% of schools choosing this alternative.

One of the selling points for the Baseline Assessment has been the benefits for those schools with lower attainment on entry. There is concern, however, that introducing such a high stakes test in these very early years could be counterproductive.

The reason why such a large number signed up for Early Excellence is because it is seen as being more holistic than some of the other baseline tests. Those campaigning against the tests had pointed out that it ran the risk of narrowing the curriculum.

This research study included among its questions:

  • How can this assessment be adapted to the needs of different groups of pupils, such as children with SEND or EAL, looked-after children, children from BME groups and from disadvantaged backgrounds?

It included an online survey and also five primary case studies.

Main findings of the report

  • The majority of respondents agreed that the Baseline Assessment had disrupted the start to school (59%).
  • A notable number responded that they agreed that Baseline Assessment negatively affected the development of the relationship between pupils and teaching staff (31.2%).
  • The majority of respondents did not feel that the assessment had helped them get to know reception pupils better (54%).
  • The majority disagreed that the Baseline Assessment had helped them to identify the needs of SEN children (71.1%).
  • The majority disagreed that the Baseline Assessment had helped them to identify the needs of EAL children (68.2%).
  • Ninety-two per cent of those responding indicated that they already had at least some form of assessment arrangement at the start of reception to support teaching and learning.
  • There was strong support for the existing EYFS profile assessment.
  • Almost 60% disagreed that the Baseline Assessment was a fair and accurate way of assessing children.
  • A very high proportion of respondents agreed that Baseline Assessment had increased workload within the classroom (81.6%) and outside the classroom (84.3%).

From the research the authors conclude that:

  • Baseline Assessment is inaccurate and therefore problematic as the basis for school accountability.
  • Baseline Assessment has potentially damaging effects on children relating to low expectations and labelling.
  • Baseline Assessment increases teachers’ workloads without providing useful information.
  • Baseline Assessment has cost and resource implications for schools.

Impact on children with SEND

There are a number of worrying results from the survey, particularly in relation to pupils with SEN. Teachers replied that they had stopped teaching whilst the assessment was being applied so that it was a true reflection of what the children could do when they entered the school.

Some schools have been putting children into ability groups based on the results, a development that is particularly worrying for children with SEND. Concerns were expressed about the extent to which the baseline might be responsible for the grouping and labelling of children at a very early stage.

Teachers referred to the difficulties they had ensuring a warm welcome for children into reception at the same time as conducting the assessment. Many felt that the assessment got in the way of them getting to know the children rather than improving their knowledge.

It was very clear that teachers did not feel that the Baseline Assessment had helped identify children with SEND. When asked in the survey 20% of respondents (223) said that they disagreed a little with the statement ‘Baseline Assessment has helped to identify the needs of SEN children’ and 51.1% (569) disagreed a lot with the statement.

However, a small number of teachers did suggest that the assessment had helped them identify higher achieving children and those with dyslexia. The overall conclusion was ‘Baseline Assessment appears to have a limited use as a tool for identifying particular needs, especially where existing arrangements or information from nurseries already identified these children.’

Some teachers expressed concern that pupils with SEND were at risk of being labelled too early. In interviews it was raised as a concern that some parents might begin gaming the system and that this could lead to further gaps between those with knowledge of the system and those without.

Some suggested that there could be low expectations as a result of the test. ‘The potentially damaging effect of Baseline Assessment is… that for children with low scores (`below typical´) even if they make good progress, it will be seen as acceptable for them to remain low-attaining at age 11.’

Teachers had significant concerns about the possibility of tracking and predicting results from the Baseline Assessment. Many concerns were raised about the validity and reliability of the tests. In addition, concerns were raised about the possibility of ‘gaming’ taking place.

Further information

They Are Children… not Robots, not Machines: The Introduction of Reception Baseline Assessment, Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes, UCL Institute of Education, February 2016:
www.teachers.org.uk/sites/default/files2014/baseline-assessment--final-10404.pdf

About the author

Dr Suzanne O’Connell was headteacher of a junior school in Warwickshire for eleven years. During her teaching career she has worked in primary and middle schools in Coventry, Bradford and Leeds. She now works as a freelance education writer and editor.

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