Everything you need to know about your pupils’ learning levels delivered in real time.
They say two heads are better than one.
How about four?
The heads of:
- Leigh St. Thomas Church of England School
- Lowton West Primary School
- St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
- Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School
Even better when those heads are supported by year teachers.
And completely unstoppable when teamed up with the North West’s leading software development team.
A problem solving partnership that has created Snapshot – a school pupil assessment platform that takes ongoing pupil performance information and uses that information to identify day to day learning strengths and learning gaps.
A school pupil assessment platform singularly focused on delivering better teaching outcomes. Real time assessment shared with leaders, teachers, governors and parents that delivers real world learning benefits.
Says James Marsh, Headteacher at Leigh St. Thomas Church of England School, “Staff used to have to wait until the end of the term or half term to input assessments. A huge workload. Now there’s no more skipping over gaps, no more waiting until the end of term to spot problems. At the end of each day teachers can determine whether they need to revisit a lesson or intervene with a group or individual to ensure continued pupil progress.”
“That’s right,” agrees Jennifer Warner, Deputy Head at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Wigan, “We used to update the statements now in Snapshot on an Excel spreadsheet every term. It’s so much quicker and you can do it anywhere – a lot of staff will have it on their tablets and you can dip into it anywhere at home or at school. It’s very much as an ongoing assessment tool as opposed to an end of time period.”
Now headteachers are able to work with staff to identify areas that needed to be addressed for individuals, groups and year groups. Data to regularly inform parents of the strengths and areas for development of their children without creating any extra work.
Says Jennifer, “Staff are now very focused on what each child needs to know to meet age related expectations. It’s given them a much sharper focus”.
Ongoing pupil assessment
Ongoing pupil assessment has always been a challenge. Traditionally a pen and paper process completed by teachers at term end, the results were inevitably less than ideal – detachment, lack of clarity and sheer workload all taking their toll on reliability and benefit.
Even the introduction of a newer computer based systems failed to really tackle the problem – cumbersome, interfering with the classroom teaching and unable to handle individual school’s specific curriculums.
Prompted by the introduction of The National Curriculum 2014, as well as applying new curriculums many primary schools also decided to use this as an opportunity to introduce systems to integrate planning, assessment and data analysis on an ongoing basis.
“We’d looked at a whole number of systems”, says James, “A lot of them seemed quite set in the way they work and the way they look. Lots of spreadsheets and clunky drop down menus. We wanted one that suited us. One of the main benefits of the new systems is that you can tailor it to your school – it’s very adaptable.
“The other main benefit is how easy it is to use. Whether on desktop, laptop or tablet, simple updating information is quick and simple so it doesn’t interfere with teaching.”
“I’ll admit,” adds Jennifer, “When we first got Snapshot we got a little giddy. Seriously. It made assessment so much more manageable.”
Flexibility. Ease of input. The two keys to Snapshot’s success.
And the way that James and his colleagues made sure they got such power and flexibility behind such an easy to use screen?
In a word – collaboration.
It’s collaboration that extended as far as James opening up the project to three other schools.
We wanted to work collaboratively to make sure that the assessments we use on the system are as accurate as possible. Bouncing ideas between the staff from different schools.
We meet on a regular basis as head teachers and staff meet up in year groups. For example all the Year 1 teachers and all the Year 2’s. That’s how the criteria were set up for the expectations in each subject area. Best practices elicited between the four schools.
Close collaboration with Kaleida as well – on two levels.
“We had a lot of face to face meetings with technicians sorting out all the behind the screen stuff and also with Cath Kenyon who’s come into the school and been a bridge between our world of education and their world of software.” says James.
“It was great to have both types of relationship – the technical and with Cath. She’s been really good at finding out the language we use.
“After the first meeting I walked away thinking I didn’t understand much as there was so much technical talk. But as time has gone on it’s got much easier. Kaleida have learnt so much about educational assessment and at the same time we learnt so much about what goes on behind the screen and setting it up. They’ve shown us what is possible.”
“Kaleida were really good,” Jennifer, “You’d ring them for something like a login and they’d get straight back to you and tell you everything you need to know.
Also if you’re stuck doing something you can ring then and they talk you through what to do even though the information isn’t complicated if you do get stuck you can ring them and they’ll send you in the right direction.”
Possibility made possible
Every subject criteria, for every pupil, recorded accurately every lesson – real time assessments, day in, day out.
Continual evaluation that allows parents and staff to recognise and immediately address any learning gaps.
Commenting on a recent inspection of St Joseph’s it reported:
“You have developed a successful system that, although it is changing and adapting to meet your precise needs, is used effectively by leaders, teachers and governors. This information identifies which pupils or groups are making progress and which need some additional support or challenge. It has also been effective in encouraging teachers in lessons to focus on the skills and attributes that pupils have and need to gain.”
And do the children appreciate it? You bet!
“We’ve actually showed it to them,” say Jennifer ”We tell them, ‘This is what we’re looking at today and this is what you need to do to to complete it, let’s see what you can do,’ they really rise to the challenge and actually work hard to reach a higher number.”
Little wonder too that so many other schools are now paying close attention to the many benefits of Snapshot – parents, governors and teachers all quickly seeing the benefits of real time assessment.
And no surprise either that a secondary school version is planned. A system that with take the Year 6 information and transition it through to Year 7. Clean, accurate and timely pupil learning data to give give Year 7 teachers a clear understanding of new pupils’ learning levels across dozens of important criteria. What a great start to life in secondary school!
Hand on heart – do you know what your pupils know… more to the point – what they don’t know?
Snapshot will tell you.
Real time assessment. Real world benefits.