Pocklington Junior School in York uses NFER’s full range of KS2 tests. Headteacher, Mr Alex Reppold, discusses how the assessments fit within the school’s formative approach to assessing pupil learning.
“We administer tests across the whole school during what we call ‘Challenge Weeks’. These are pitched positively to pupils and are all about the children challenging themselves to do their best. We don’t do any other summative judgements apart from NFER assessments which we use as a litmus test to see whether children are broadly where they need to be and how we can move learning forward.”
It’s evident that Pocklington is committed to putting learning at the very heart of assessment, from both the teacher and pupil perspective. This means ensuring assessment outcomes are acted upon. Mr Reppold explains how NFER Tests help meet this objective.
“We use NFER Tests primarily as a diagnostic tool and I am quite careful about making sure my staff see them as a diagnostic tool. They allow us to set alarm bells off if we need to or enable us to recognise where good progress has been made so we can learn from it.”
Taking a comprehensive approach to use of its assessment data, Pocklington involves staff at all levels in the analysis of NFER Tests results in order to inform ongoing teaching and learning.
“There is multi-layered diagnostic work that takes place. As a headteacher, I look at percentages to gain an overarching understanding of attainment and to inform where to allocate resources such as teaching assistants within particular year groups or classes. Subject leaders focus on the programme of study and look across the top line at strengths and weakness to inform what areas need more focus and what teachers should be doing in terms of teaching time. Class teachers undertake individual question-level analysis to see where there are gaps in understanding, and identify on a child-by-child basis where extra drop-ins or support may be needed to plug those gaps.”
On why he chooses NFER Tests for his schools, Mr Reppold lists a number of factors ranging from their resemblance to the national curriculum tests, to the tangible features of the materials themselves.
“I’ve used NFER Tests for a number of years so am familiar with them. I find they tend to be closer in structure, format and presentation to the national curriculum tests than other providers. They also feel properly put together on decent quality paper. We are not an exam factory so it is really important for us when we are choosing tests that they are going to provide as much benefit to teachers and pupils as possible. For us, the tests are a diagnostic tool but it is a bonus that they help familiarise children with the national curriculum tests.”
Mr Reppold also recognises the rigorous development process underpinning NFER Tests, which gives the school confidence to use them as an independent measure of progress for internal use as well as for external reporting.
“Because they’ve got a decent research base behind them, the tests mean we can have an impartial judgment against what we are doing and evidence of progress. It’s a structure that I know has been rigorously tested and does stack up in terms of the statistics behind it. The tests provide a firmer foundation when I’m having conversations with external parties and governors.”