Teaching and Learning
This edition of the principal's blog is brought to you by our Deputy Principal for Teaching and Learning, Mrs Williamson. It explores the importance of high quality assessment and feedback in education, making the point that although students may still be sat behind desks with a teacher in the classroom, many of the fundamentals have evolved dramatically over the past few years.
I hope that you enjoy it, and don’t forget if you ever want to come and see Hazeley in action you are more than welcome to book a walk about with me via my PA, Miss Cooke ECooke@thehazeleyacademy.com
The Milton Keynes Museum in Wolverton is one of my most favourite places to visit. Have you been? I am always particularly struck by the fantastically preserved Victorian school room – it’s very atmospheric. However, it did strike me how similar the classroom was to the ones I learned in back in the late 90s: desks in rows; disorganised teacher’s desk at the front; cursive writing sprawled across the board. It leads me to question whether education has moved on at all or did the Victorian’s get it right? I’m inclined to think both. One way education has improved is through the use of assessment. Here, at Hazeley, we take a sensible approach to assessment – testing students in a range of ways to find out exactly what they know and what they can do. From here, our skilled teachers can support students to fill in the gaps and improve. Whilst that is a simplistic model, our system of assessment is much more that a mock exam or quick quiz.
Firstly, we ensure that students know how to prepare for assessment This takes several forms: students knowing exactly what they are tested on and how to answer the questions. Understanding the requirements of the assessment is essential and challenging – students need to know the subject content as well as what the examiner expects, for example, when to analyse and when to evaluate.
Next, we ask students to consider how select the right revision strategies for them – whether that is mind maps, using online resources, flashcards... even making revision raps! It’s vital that students know how they are inclined to learn and revise best. Parents can support their child by discussing how they prefer to learn new skills and how they overcome challenges. This helps build resilience and endurance.
Finally, once students have completed the assessment the real work begins! What students do after their assessments is vitally important in driving their progress forward. At Hazeley, we call it DIRT, standing for Directed Improvement and Reflection Time. Students receive their feedback, compare their own work to high level example work, look at mark schemes and plan their next steps of improvement. This could be further revision, re-writing sections or receiving further support. It’s always helpful if parents ask their child how they have improved since their last assessment – they will be keen to show their progress.
The education system has long been tarred with the reputation that students are over-assessed. That may be the case in some schools, but not Hazeley. I believe that the process of assessment is the bedrock of learning and works best when it is coupled with deep reflection. To coin Victorian writer, Charles Dickens’ character Oliver Twist, ‘Please sir, can I have some more?!
If you would like any further advice about assessment at Hazeley, please do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Gemma Williamson
Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning