To improve the awareness of the Formative Assessment Project at Middlewich High School, we have begun to seek the views of students on their learning experiences. Having completed the first year of the training, we are now looking to convince all staff, old and new, that this project is really working and is valued by our students. We hope that by collecting the views of students across the school, we will be able to fine-tune the implementation of an assessment for learning philosophy within our classrooms. This is being done through termly meetings between myself and students in an interview-style process to collect information about their learning.
Meetings have revealed a great deal about our student’s learning and what is working for them and lessons and what has been working less successfully than imagined. The questions used in interviews were based upon topics covered in TLC meetings and the ‘wasted years’ document’ document posted on the K hub. In addition, we used the student survey questions from the core materials in the project pack to initially survey student attitudes. The results have been fed-back to staff within TLC time to allow this to further enrich the ideas for their action plans. It has been a great success and very complementary to the visits from students themselves within the TLC meetings.
In the latest student learning panel students revealed many ways in which teachers had explained learning intentions, in a way that meant students became more motivated to learn and found the learning process easier. This surely makes sense, where students know what they need to accomplish in each lesson, they will be more able to accomplish it. I think all teenagers need reminding of this key aspect however as we are constantly pushed for curriculum time and keen to ‘deliver the content’. Hearing from the students however, that this was valuable to them really did make some teachers pause and then commit to practising this within their action plans.
Other teachers found many other aspects of the learning panel’s feedback useful for formulating their action plans. The model of peer-assessment was well-received by some students, especially now that students were prompted to use success criteria as part of their feedback so that the improvement comments were helpful. The success criteria allowed students to know exactly where they had met the marks within their work, but also gained a valuable insight in to where they should look to improve. Students welcomed example answers as part of this feedback process, but asked that the examples be taken away when rerating. They prefer to be able to redraft using targets they have made using the example material, so that they are not tempted to simply recycle the answer given to them. Many teachers are now trailing the removal of examples during redrafting work to see if students are still successful with their redrafting having made targets for themselves.
Our students have made a positive contribution to the project in our school. Teachers have really welcomed the introduction of the student voice as part of this project and it has really encouraged many teachers to keep striving to improve through the second year. Hearing it ‘from the horse’s mouth’ has left us without doubt that the project is making a difference at Middlewich High School.