School Reporting Suite

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UK Primary Assessment Updates – Resits, Punctuation, Grammar & Review

The school reporting and assessment system in the UK particularly for primary school children has been under intense review and scrutiny in recent years.

The government continues to review and suggest amendments to policies and processes that mean teachers, school senior management teams, parents and children are having to adapt to changes.

In October the Education secretary Justine Greening announced some policy decisions in a statement to parliament.

Here is a quick look at three of the announcements affecting primary assessment and children as they leave primary school and enter high school.

Maths and Reading Resits For Year 7 Entrants Will Not Be Imposed

There had been a consultation on plans to make year 7 pupils resit key stage 2 tests for children that failed to meet the “expected standard”

The UK government have now confirmed that this will now not be imposed, adding that the focus will now be on making sure children “catches up on lost ground”. There will be resit papers made available for teachers that wish to use them.

Key Stage 1 Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar Remains Non-Statutory

The key stage 1 spelling, punctuation and grammar tests have been controversial after the tests were leaked online and were postponed as a legal requirement. Greening confirmed in her statement that this would be extended for another year.

This will allow teachers and senior management teams to decide if the tests will be implemented in their schools.

Further Consultation On UK Primary assessment in the New Year

The announcements by Justine Greening may have been more about postponing the implementation of existing tests, however it is clear that this is up for review.

The government has announced it will continue the consultation on primary assessment an issue that is likely to continue to be a political football in the coming weeks, months and even years.

UK School Assessment Reporting – No New Tests Before 2018

The UK school assessment reporting process from schools has been under review and subject to multiple changes under the current government.

This has affected all key stages and is likely to continue as consultations and reviews into effective ways of monitoring, tracking and reporting children’s progress are planned by the UK government.

This makes the challenge for key stakeholders to make sure that their own internal monitoring, tracking and reporting systems allow them to stay on top of changing regulatory requirements in line with the national curriculum and their own reporting needs.

In October the Education secretary Justine Greening announced some policy decisions in a statement to parliament.  One of which was that there would be no new tests implemented before 2018.

No New Tests Before 2018

Teachers, school senior management teams, parents and children have had to adapt to a number of different changes in how pupil progress is assessed, monitored and reported on a local and national level.

Therefore, there may be some relief that there are no new tests for children in the UK education system before 2018. This is said to be designed to bring in a greater level of stability to schools over the coming 12 months.

With so many changes the reaction to this and the scrapping of key stage 1 resits (link to other blog) have been positively received by the Naswut teaching union.

Christine Keates the head of the union stating

“It appears that the Secretary of State has now recognised the real challenges around statutory end of key-stage assessment.

“The recognition that there were problems with the 2015/16 data, and that because of this no schools should face harsh sanctions solely on the basis of that data, is a welcome step towards relieving the pressure and anxiety some schools have been experiencing.”

What Schools Say About The School Reporting Suite

Teacher Pointing at Map of World ca. 2002

Teacher Pointing at Map of World ca. 2002

An efficient and accurate way of reporting pupil progress is an important part of the UK education system. It has been something we have worked tirelessly to implement with our School Reporting Suite platform.

One of the challenges we face when talking with schools is allowing them to picture how our solution works and the benefits it can have.

We are happy to demo our system to any school that may be interested to help bridge the conceptual gap, but we thought we would share a couple of testimonials from schools that use SRS for their pupil assessment, tracking and reporting or other IT work.

Here are two examples of clients that are reaping the benefits of working with SRS.

Menorah Primary School

We have completed our first full year’s assessment schedule using SRS, using both the tracking and reporting modules. The software fully represents our assessment ethos. It is easy to deploy and data entry is very straightforward even in Hebrew! Layout is comprehensive without being cluttered and print copy is aesthetic and ready to send to parents. We now have the tools to generate full reports and charts on classes, groups and individual students in all their subjects and categories. We can track, assess, compare and plan – all within one software package.
Thank you, Aspiring Panda! Your customer service is ‘top-shelf’ with immediate and effective response to all our technical enquiries.

————– Rabbi Atlas

Wexham School

Aspiring Panda the company behind SRS have been providing a professional service for the School’s IT requirements in respect of Structured Network Cabling, installation of interactive whiteboards and AV Sound Systems. Recently, we had a need to update our website and approached Aspiring Panda for this task.

We would like to thank the Aspiring Panda team for designing our school website and was particularly impressed by their usual professional approach and the speed at which the website was prepare to meet our particular requirements. We would definitely work with them in the future and also have no hesitation in recommending Aspiring Panda to other organisations.

Dubai Schools Allow High Performing Schools To Opt Out Of Assessments

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In Dubai high performing schools are getting the ability to opt out of regular assessments as part of a new education initiative.

This is of note as in the United Kingdom schools only have a limited amount of flexibility in the way they track, monitor and assess the progress of pupils.

Schools are required to comply with the national curriculum and the wide range of formal and informal assessments that are monitored at a local and a national level.

However, the requirement for regular assessment as part of the education process is not universally accepted and others across the UK and the world think other approaches may be more appropriate and beneficial to the learning of pupils.

The Dubai Approach

One country that has taken a different approach in schools is Dubai, where schools that are high achieving are able to opt out of regular assessments.

Arabian Business outlined the project in a recent article

“The Abundance Group project, initiated by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) will allow schools rated very good and outstanding the option of a differentiated inspection based on self-evaluation, allowing them to focus their resources on giving back to other schools.

This marks the first time an education regulator in the UAE has offered schools a choice to carry out self-evaluations instead of formal inspections in order to help improve standards across other poor performing schools.”

Analysis For The UK

It is noteworthy that at this point this is only for high achieving schools and whether this is a recognition of the importance of uniform assessment is beneficial in providing a pathway to measuring and improving pupil performance.

The Dubai Initiative is an interesting case study and I am sure people across the education system will be watching to see how this change affects performance.

Primary School Assessment In UK Remains Controversial

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Primary school assessment in the UK has become a hot political issue in recent months.

The accurate assessment, tracking and reporting of pupil performance is vital to ensuring that the right steps can be taken to shape a child’s learning and tailor learning experiences to match progress while keeping parents and management informed.

How to do this on a national level has been in the news frequently in recent weeks as the government has come under pressure on how it tracks the performance of primary school children.

First, there was controversy over the trial of national spelling tests where questions from practice papers were used in the official trial.

Key Stage 2 SATs

Now this week the government has come under fire due to parents taking their children out of school for a day in protest at key stage 2 SATs

The Daily Mail summarised the issue

“Families have pulled their children out of class as part of a nationwide demonstration against the exams for six and seven-year-olds, which they claim put schoolchildren ‘through hell’ and too stressed to eat or sleep.

Critics claim the children in Year 2 is causing mental health problems – while some parents say their children are being ‘set up to fail’ so the Tories can force through its academies plans.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said today it was wrong for parents to force young children to strike because: ‘Even missing a day’s school can be damaging.’”

This issue that saw more than 2,000 six and seven-year-old pupils taken out of school highlights how emotive testing and performance tracking can be.

It is important that schools continue to invest in making the assessment, tracking and reporting of pupil progress as efficient and as user-friendly as possible in a complex education setting.

This is why at Aspiring Panda, we developed the School Reporting Suite (SRS), our reporting software, that makes tracking and reporting pupil progress simple to manage.

Find out more at http://schoolreportingsuite.com/

Can You Really Scrap A-E Grades and Reporting

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There is a requirement for schools of all types in the UK to have Ofsted compliant systems of assessment, tracking and reporting.

The way that education is measured and reported is an area where professional opinions can differ significantly.

In the UK schools are bound to track, assess and report pupil progress in line with the national curriculum; however there are some schools outside of the UK that are trying a different reporting system.

One such experiment is taking place in Australia where Nossal High School has removed grades from its reporting because they found parents and students were giving them too much attention and missing out on important feedback.

The Assistant principal, Sue Harrap said she felt that the previous mandatory reporting style left teachers feeling “boxed in”.

Instead students and teachers contribute to the new report cards and rate the student’s knowledge, skills, participation, reflection and study habits.

The tracking and assessment reporting system that the school is using is published to families four times a year and contains more information that a traditional grade focussed report.

Importance of Assessment Tracking In The UK

The experiment in Australia highlights the benefits of bespoke assessment and measurement in the participating schools. In the UK the national curriculum means that schools are obligated to measure and track certain endpoints and monitor progress.

However, for schools looking for additional flexibility due to an alternative measurement of success or those operating within faith curriculums, bespoke school reporting can allow for a higher level of visibility and engagement.

This can improve the communication and reporting between education managers, teachers, parents and the students themselves.

Although the UK curriculum does not allow for the following of the model being adopted in parts of Australia, there is certainly some validity into looking at how school reporting can better serve those involved.

How Would Your School Handle A Digital Detox

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Digital technology has taken over our lives in recent years.

The invention of smart phones and the mobile internet and Wi-Fi infrastructure that has grown to support them means that we can be online virtually anywhere.

One generation that the digital revolution has affected the most are school age children.

There are now generations of children growing up that are digitally native, they have never lived in a world where information and communication was not at their fingertips 24/7. Children are drawn to technology from an early age and it seems to come naturally to them.

Teens in the UK, like most everywhere else in the world, are incredibly digitally literate. Smartphone adoption is sky high and by 2013, 8 out of 10 UK teens had a smart phone, using it for browsing the web, playing games and using social media.

Young people are estimated to be only for 27 hours a week and there is concern that is too much and children are becoming dependent on being connected.

Last week the BBC put together an interesting experiment to see how high school students would cope with a weeklong digital detox.

Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.”

It was insightful to see how the students use the technology and how different their experience of the world is to their parents.

All quite endearing it shows just how important digital has become in the behaviours of the next generation. This will affect how they respond to how they find and absorb information and how they communicate with each other.

Kodesh Curriculum Case Study

At School Reporting Suite we know that our software can handle the complexities of running a system in English and Hebrew, whilst reporting on the Kodesh and national curricula.

We know this because we have implemented it within a Jewish school in Golders Green and the results and response from the school has been phenomenal.

The Menorah Primary School Case Study

The Menorah Primary School, is an orthodox Jewis school founded in 1944 by the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash. They contacted Aspiring Panda the company that created the School Reporting Suite looking for tracking and annual reporting software for the school.

Two of the key requirements that the software were

  • It could be written to and edited in Hebrew
  • It could be fully customised to suit the subjects and grading criteria of the school’s Jewish studies curriculum

What We Did

Aspiring Panda implemented a cloud based version of the School Reporting Suite to accommodate the Jewish Study Curriculum and he school’s grading criteria.

Using the language settings of the software we allowed the system to be written to and edited in Hebrew and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

The Reaction Of The School

The implementation of the software went smoothly, teachers found it convenient and easy to use and the head teacher reported that time efficiencies were achieved due to standardised formatting which reduced writing and review time.

Parental feedback was also extremely positive, particularly on the professional style and quality of the reports.

Here is what the head of the school had to say after the first year of using SRS.

“We have completed our first full year’s assessment schedule using SRS, using both the tracking and reporting modules. The software fully represents our assessment ethos. It is easy to deploy and data entry is very straightforward even in Hebrew! Layout is comprehensive without being cluttered and print copy is aesthetic and ready to send to parents. We now have the tools to generate full reports and charts on classes, groups and individual students in all their subjects and categories. We can track, assess, compare and plan – all within one software package.
Thank you, Aspiring Panda! Your customer service is ‘top-shelf’ with immediate and effective response to all our technical enquiries.”

  1. Atlas, Principal

GCSE and A-Level Exam Remarking – The Challenges Of Assessment

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GCSE’s and A-Levels are two of the most important measures of academic progress within the UK education system.

A pupil’s education is largely designed to help prepare them to take these standard examinations that can have a dramatic impact on the path that a pupil takes.

Good results can lead to a job or further education, whilst not hitting expectations can lead to re-sits or a longer term revaluation of future plans.

The process of administering the assessments, marking them and reporting back to the schools is a mammoth one that is administered by each of the different accredited exam boards.

Millions of tests are taken, marked and reported in a short period of time which creates a number of challenges around consistency in delivering and marking the assessments.

There are a growing number of of schools that are challenging the results received by pupils when they do not match previous performance or expectations.

With so much at stake for the pupils and schools it is only natural that when this occurs they take all reasonable steps to ensure pupils get the grades they deserve and that everyone gets equal treatment.

Ofqual, the exam watchdog, published that it received an incredible 572,000 queries over exam grades last year, an increase of 27% compared to the year before.

These queries have produced results, requests for papers to be remarked has resulted in more than 90,000 grades being changed during the last exam cycle nationally.

The sheer scale of the problem has caused the regulator to launch an inquiry to investigate why the results received by pupils on results day are so often being changed on appeal.

As a company that specialises in the assessment, monitoring and reporting of pupils in education, we will watch the progress of this investigation with interest.

The assessment and reporting of pupil exam results is a huge challenge, however it is one that needs to be gotten right.

Exhibiting at The National Jewish Education Conference For Primary School Teachers

Next week we are proud to be exhibiting our School Reporting Suite at the National Jewish Education Conference For Primary School teachers. The event being held on the 12th of January at the London School of Jewish studies and will be an opportunity to meet educators from across the country.

Explaining Our Unique School Reporting Suite

We are delighted to be exhibiting at the conference, as we will be able to speak with delegates and explain to them how our School Reporting Suite can support both the national and Kodesh curricula.

We will be speaking about the benefits of being to track pupil progress within both national and Kodesh curricula using just one piece of software that can be used to monitor progress and seamlessly share this with management in real time.

Our Work With The Kodesh Curricula

The School Reporting Suite is designed to be the solution for faith schools looking to use more than one language and/or curriculum. We are exhibiting as we already have experience implementing our reporting suite successfully within a Jewish school.

Our work with the Menorah Primary School has been extremely successful leading the Principal to say

“We have completed our first full year’s assessment schedule using SRS, using both the tracking and reporting modules. The software fully represents our assessment ethos. It is easy to deploy and data entry is very straightforward even in Hebrew!

Thank you, Aspiring Panda! Your customer service is ‘top-shelf’ with immediate and effective response to all our technical enquiries.”

Who We Are Looking To Meet

During the conference we are looking to talk to delegates that are looking for a more efficient and effective way of reporting information within their school.

We look forward to attending on the 12th and hope that if you are attending you will come and ask us about the School Reporting Suite.

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