What is Assessment for Learning (AFL)
AFL is an approach to teaching and learning that creates feedback which is then used to improve students' performance. Teachers plan tasks which help learners to do this. AFL involves students becoming more active in their learning and starting to 'think like a teacher'.
At Clowne Junior School we see AFL as a process in which the whole class can engage. The teacher is at the heart of the process and drives a climate where a child’s role as learner, as well as an assessor, is critical to maximise the learning process.
AFL involves using assessment in the classroom to raise pupils’ achievement. It is based on the idea that pupils will improve most if they understand the aim of their learning, where they are in relation to this aim and how they can achieve the aim (or close the gap in their knowledge).
When does AFL take place?
Assessment is built into planning and is ‘part and parcel’ of a teacher’s practice. It is a continuous process - assessing what children have learnt and understood and determining their next steps.
Effective AFL happens all the time in the classroom. It involves:
Sharing learning goals with pupils.
Helping pupils know and recognise the standards to aim for.
Providing feedback that helps pupils to identify how to improve.
Believing that every pupil can improve in comparison with previous achievements.
How do teachers mark?
Marking should be purposeful and enable children to develop their understanding of areas in which they can improve. Marking can also be a great way to encourage and motivate children. Teachers use ‘Live Marking’ (a process of actively engaging with childrens' work constructively during lesson time) wherever possible. This enables children to gain immediate feedback steering them towards their learning goals and avoiding children developing misconceptions. This marking can come in the form of an individual, group or whole class basis depending on need. Both the teacher and pupils review and reflect on pupils' performance and progress.
Research has shown that being part of the review process raises standards and empowers pupils to take action to improve their performance. Teachers use a variety of methods to enable pupils to use self-assessment techniques to discover areas they need to improve – again, enable them to ‘think like a teacher’.
Assessment and testing
Assessment and Testing - we recognise these are not necessarily the same thing!
Children’s learning is assessed in a variety of ways. By observing children, by talking with them about their learning and designing assessment tasks/activities at the end of an area of learning in order to find out what children have learnt.
Children do participate in testing but we recognise this for it's benefits and it limitations. Children have more formal assessments for core subject three times each academic year. This gives teachers an opportunity to assess learning within a more 'traditional' and independent manner. These tests are not used in isolation and teachers use their professional judgements to ascertain levels and targets for individual children. At Clowne Juniors we also recognise this 'Assessment of Learning' should always feed into our AFL approach. This data gives us an opportunity to recognise where gaps in understanding may be and the opportunity to address this. Overall judgements give the whole school a 'data picture' where school leaders can make informed decisions about wider school policies.
Driving learning forward
Essentially, well thought out and planned assessment drives learning. Feedback to pupils about their learning leads to new and stronger learning. Assessment is an essential part of the ethos in every classroom and a continual two way process between adults and children.