The impact of using Assessing Primary Writing | A case study from St James’ CE Primary School, Chorley

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“The impact is felt across the school immediately and not just isolated to one year group.”

Andrew Clark, Deputy Head and Year 6 teacher at St James’ CE Primary School in Chorley tells us more about how his school is benefiting from using Assessing Primary Writing.

Our school background

We are a one-form entry primary school, with nursery. We have around 230 pupils on role, the majority are White British with a significant proportion of Pakistani origin. We have some EAL pupils and a higher than average proportion of Pupil Premium pupils for Lancashire. The school sets high expectations of all pupils and there is a strong focus on achieving the very best for every child.

Why did you choose Assessing Primary Writing?

When the new curriculum came in, we found that we had started to use a bit of a ‘tick box’ approach to assessing writing. We wanted more of a holistic view where we can step back and assess writing as a whole to see how pupils are doing. We were looking for something that would save us time and would be efficient.

How are you using Assessing Primary Writing?

We have been using Assessing Primary Writing since January 2017. All our staff take part in the judging, including HLTAs and any teaching students that may be in school.

We tend to do the judging together in specifically allocated time in staff meetings. We have found this works very well as we can then immediately start to do some analysis – reviewing and discussing what issues may be coming up across multiple pupils’ work, what stood out, both positive and negative.

We look at what the cohort as a whole are good at and how this relates to the rest of the school. This works really well as we may be judging, say, Year 5 work, but as the Year 2 teacher is involved in the judging then they can see immediately what things they can take back to their teaching.

What impact has using a comparative judgement approach had on your school’s assessment of primary writing?

It has allowed all our teachers to view and see the standard of writing across the school. This allows all teachers to see what is expected of their current year group and also where children need to move to to be at the expected standards at key points of primary school.

Due to the fact that the writing is made anonymous, bias is removed, and the actual writing is judged rather than the child. The ease of the approach is also very important and is the same across the whole school.

What insights have you gained from the results from each judging window?

We really value being able to dig into the results, script by script. This allows us to analyse what it was about the scripts that came out with higher scaled scores that made them good – and also look at those with lower scaled scores to see what areas can be improved. We’re also finding the Writing Ages that are now provided a really useful feature.

The national comparisons have been very useful to see where our children’s writing sits in a national picture. We can see if any cohorts are above or below their peers more accurately.

How have the results informed teaching and learning?

As the whole staff are judging together common errors of punctuation, grammar and spelling can be seen and actioned by all staff. This means that the impact is felt across the school immediately and not just isolated to one year group.

The results have also been helpful in Y2 and Y6 to inform teacher assessment of writing.

The reports are detailed and provide a good platform for dialogue with staff at pupil progress meetings.

Would you recommend Assessing Primary Writing to other schools?

Yes, definitely. It has provided the opportunity for a focus on writing at key points in the year and a focus on each year group. From a staff development perspective this has been useful as it helps the teachers to see the holistic overview of writing standards across the school and particularly helps those year groups where there isn’t statutory writing assessment.

To find out more about Comparative Judgement and Assessing Primary Writing,  go to www.nomoremarking.com

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