Schools and Trusts have adapted brilliantly, during Covid-19 to the complex demands of ensuring continuity of learning through the development of online, remote and blended learning provision.
WE have been inspired by the resilience education has displayed through this crisis – and encouraged by some of these positives that have emerged from such a difficult time.
Our first trust influence forum therefore explored what role should innovations in online and blended learning play in a post-Covid-19 world.
The WE Trust Influence Forums are roundtable events that provide trust leaders with the space and time to collectively influence each other and the system and become a powerful, positive voice for the change they want to see in education.
Each Trust Influence Forum focuses on trust leaders’ perspective on an important issue facing education. Afterwards, we will share their thoughts in a draft position paper. This aims to stimulate reflection and conversation amongst schools and trusts within the WE network as well as across the wider system.
You are welcomed and encouraged to add your thoughts and comments using the Google Form at the bottom of this page. This is a living, breathing document which will be constantly updated.
Our second trust influence forum looked at assessment in summer 2021 with WE Founder Sir John Dunford (his ten point plan here), Martin Said from XP and Liz Robinson from Big Education.
What are trust leaders reflections on the current debate around assessment?
Trust leaders felt that the chaos and confusion last summer was a product of the English system’s disproportionate focus on terminal assessments. Our high-stakes assessments are used to fulfil a number of sometimes competing or contradictory objectives. They reflect the model of competition, rather than cooperation, baked in to the heart of education policy. The current moment is forcing the system to confront some of these tensions – which may be positive in the long-term.
The government is still fully committed to exams taking place as normal because they believe this is the fairest approach for young people.
The English model of education is highly dependent on high-stakes testing which is why the government has struggled with how to approach assessment during Covid-19.
The debate has highlighted the status of teachers: the government does not appear to trust teachers. As a consequence, policy decisions – both from government but also decisions we have made in schools – have de-professionalised teachers in response.
Leaders felt that to some extent, as a profession, educators had not taken the opportunity of summer 2020 to rebut this narrative about teacher credibility.
What underpinning principles should guide our approach to assessment for 2021?
Trust leaders were keen to respond to this tricky context with a positive, widely-supported alternative, that unpicked some of the contradictions in the current assessment system. This alternative should provide – and balance – fairness for all students (individually and as groups), and show the teaching profession working in a collaborative, constructive and credible way.
So how should we do it? Outlining some system priorities for assessment in summer 2021
Trust leaders outlined an agenda, informed by Sir John Dunford, to enhance exams that can take place with a rigorous internal assessment informed by a portfolio of evidence from schools.
This can be a form of teacher-led assessment that demonstrates itself to be credible and rigorous and makes the case for the learners most impacted by the consequences of Covid, supporting the government’s commitment to fairness and the needs of students right across the country.
So how should we do it? Outlining some school priorities for assessment in summer 2021
Schools should pragmatically find ways to collect evidence throughout the year about students’ learning in order to support a strengthened centre-assessed grade.
Schools should start a professional discourse around teacher assessment, bias and validity to demonstrate that they are engaging with the issue.
The best way to counter the erosion of professional trust in teachers is to demonstrate the values that the public admires so much in teachers (85% trusted, 4th most trusted profession) by having open and honest conversations about assessment.
Investing in accreditation for a lead assessor in school.
Identify lead assessors who make assessment judgements in their institutions and ensure standards across schools and trusts. Schools and trusts should ensure this person is trained in the area and supported to develop their skills. This lead assessor could then be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors.
Create departmental and whole school frameworks for assessment and sharing them with local schools. Schools can commit to working in partnership, with lead assessors from different schools moderating each others schools’ internal assessments.
Looking to the future: how assessment in 2021 can point towards a better way
Add your comments and views to the evolving WE position paper:
Do you agree with the priorities and challenges WE identified? Have we missed something? Do you have an idea for how a blended model might be part of the way forward from Covid-19? Tell us!