Case Study – James Allen, St Joachim's Catholic Primary School – May 2018
St Joachim’s Primary began using NFER Tests in 2015 following the closure of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the discontinuation of its assessment materials. Headteacher, Mr James Allen, explains why he turned to NFER as his provider of choice:
“We used to use QCA assessments but when they ended we had to find a good replacement. NFER had shown itself to be a good leader in assessment and we’ve been using them ever since. The tests allow us to have an independent evaluation of the children, in addition to our own teacher evaluation and they give a good benchmark of attainment across the year groups.”
As well as purchasing NFER’s full suite of assessments across KS1 and KS2, St Joachim’s also makes effective use of NFER’s analysis and marking support. Mr Allen explains how analysis on an individual and group level is used to gain a richer understanding of the factors affecting pupil performance, as well as to drill down into strengths and weakness in the curriculum and draw meaningful insights to inform ongoing teaching.
“The analysis is really useful as it gives us the indicators we need in order to address the bigger picture. Not only can we identify individuals who are or aren’t doing so well, we can identify whether there may be a gender issue or something else. The ability to break down results by questions shows us exactly what areas of the curriculum we need to focus on. In our case, the results have shown we are above the national average in maths but a deeper question-level analysis still highlights topic areas which are stronger than others. We then know that the following year we need to make certain topic areas more of a focus. We might have a maths week on geometry, for example.”
Championing an evidence-based approach to teaching, Mr Allen explains how he uses insights from assessment to deliver better outcomes for his pupils.
“Even though I may have a hunch that certain areas need more work, it’s useful to have confirmation through the data. It enables us to make assertive decisions about ongoing teaching and avoid scenarios where staff teach to their comfort zones.”