Mapping Achievement at Nether Hall School – project update

Fran Duinker (Head of Primary) and Helen Robinson (Head of Sixth Form), Nether Hall School have been working on a the Mapping Achievement Digilit Leicester project designed to introduce the use of software to log students’ achievements against framework standards, and document achievements through images. You can read their introduction to the project here, and download a short reflective report on the project here.

The school are adopting a new approach in order to share progression and achievement with parents and carers. Here Fran updates us on project progress:

We have been using 2Build a profile software within the school for two terms now. The implementation has raised a number of issues which we now need to address:

Initial Issues June 2015

Teaching assistants cannot always quickly find the appropriate learning objective

A ‘learning objective’ is a brief statement that describe what our pupils will be expected to learn by the end of each unit of work. Pupils often have a number of objectives that they are expected to achieve by the end of the academic year. The vast majority of our pupils are working below the National Curriculum Level 1 and therefore are on P scales. P scale descriptors describe pupils’ performance in a way that indicates the emergence of skills, knowledge and understanding in each subject. Each P scale level is further broken down by PIVATS into 5 sub levels and each of these sub level often has several parts to it. PIVATS is a commercially produced, Government recognised school based assessment scheme based on an extension of the P Scales and National Curriculum level descriptors P1 to NC Level 4.

Using PIVATS we assess pupils in 4 subjects of the National Curriculum, English, Maths, ICT and Personal and Social Development (PSD). Each of those subjects is further broken down into three or four strands. Each of those strands is broken down into the eight P levels. Each pupil has individual targets set based on their own rate of achievement. These targets are linked to a PIVATS sub level.

When a teaching assistant has to ‘find’ the appropriate learning objective on the tablet in 2Build a profile app in English for example, they have to access the English section, access the strand, identify the level the pupil is working on, go to the sub-levels, identify which part they feel the pupil is working on, and add that to the photo. They then have to annotate the photo to say how much help was required for the pupil to achieve that sub level. With experience teaching assistance will become more proficient with quickly identifying the different strands and sub levels of PIVATS.

Staff need further training to capture the learning that they are trying to level and this may include taking a sequence of photos.

This means two things, it means firstly being able to properly capture photographic evidence, which shows the learning taking place and secondly being able to annotate the piece of learning accurately to state exactly why staff believe that learning has taken place at the required standard to meet the learning objective set.

By ‘levelling’ we mean checking against the set of criteria for a given learning objective to say if the requited standard has been met or exceeded, or if further learning needs to take place and the pupil is working at a lower level, e.g. the piece of work might have been set as a P5 piece of work but the pupil has far exceeded expectations, the staff would then look at the criteria for P6 and see if the pupil is working at that level, or still working towards it. If the pupil has not achieved the P5 level standard, we would look at the criteria for P4 to see if the work falls within that level.

Further training is required to provide appropriate narratives that contextualise learning.

Staff sometimes struggle to write precise narratives which demonstrate that the learning has taken place. For example, in order for the learning to have taken place a pupil has to demonstrate that they are able to complete the task with the amount of help stipulated by the criteria set in the learning outcome. Often in PIVATS learning outcomes it will say ‘with support’. Staff have to clarify exactly what support was offered to the pupil, a verbal prompt, a visual prompt, a physical prompt, etc. the size of group and whether the task was demonstrated before being completed by the pupil. As such we are not building templates, but providing staff with training, giving examples of different types of narratives each which describe clearly how learning has taken place.

There were some issues with implementation as some level information was not uploaded correctly.

I feel that the ‘glitch’ was with the set up pf the tablets, and that the information did not load correctly onto them. 2Build a profile is an app which allows you to take photographs and attach the learning objectives to the photo. These learning objectives are loaded onto the iPads separately to the main program. It then allows you to annotate the photo to say how the learning objective was achieved. You can then send the completed report into your class file.

Taking the Project Forward

Including the 6th Form Aim awards in to the software.

2Build a profile is a program which was primarily developed for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). In order to make it suitable for use within other schools, you can add on your own learning objectives using a system called ‘Framework Manager’. This allows you to down load objectives specific to your school.

In the 6th Form additional qualifications are worked towards. These are the AIM awards. AIM Awards is a national Awarding Organization, offering a large number of Ofqual regulated qualifications at different levels and in a wide range of subject areas, they are also licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to approve and certificate Access to Higher Education Diplomas. The majority of AIM awards we use are Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in areas such as , independent living, exploring work, and developing work skills. Our students would not be able to achieve GCSE’s and we feel this is an appropriate alternative for our pupils to achieve nationally recognized qualifications.

Include more parents into 2Engage parents.

2Engage parents is an optional add-on for 2Build a profile which lets you send activity reports directly to parents. It allows parents to keep up to date with the progress of their child and give feedback to the school from their point of view.We intend to use 2 Engage Parents as a means of sharing photos and information with our parents and inform parents of those important moments when their children have achieved a learning objective at school.

At present, there is no easy way of sending photos home, other than printing them and including them in the diary which can be a costly and time consuming task. 2Engage parents should allow us to send home photos easily. Parents will be able to share those photos at home with their children and celebrate their success. All our pupils arrive by transport so there is no face to face contact at the school gate as you would have in the majority of other school. 2 Engage Parents should provide a solution to maintaining good contact with our parents. As part of 2Engage Parents there is a contact history page shows every report sent to parents and all responses received back from parents, in this way we can track those parents who are still hesitant to engage and find alternative means of engaging them in their child’s learning.

Project Progress

Generally after two terms staff have become more confident in taking appropriate photos, which show pupils learning. While other special schools felt that it would be more appropriate for only teaching staff to use the program and add in the objectives, we felt that we would prefer to empower and up-skill our teaching assistants by each class teacher providing training and information as which objectives each pupils within the class group was working on and where to find the relevant information. This has helped to embed the staff knowledge of the pupil’s learning objectives. Staff are slowly becoming more confident in finding the appropriate objective. Further training is still required to provide the appropriate narrative that contextualise the learning that has been recorded.

We will provide further training in a number of different ways:

  • Teachers will support staff and help to compose the narratives pertinent to the pupils in classes.
  • Training will be provided in each department during stay back time. This will allow staff to share good practice.
  • At the end of this academic year we will evaluate the narratives included as part of the learning and decide if it would be helpful to use part of a training day to provide whole school training on writing narratives.

We have had issues with loading the additional learning outcomes (PIVATS & AIM Awards) onto the iPads. 2Build itself has shown no issues, but additional software we have loaded through ‘Framework Manager’ hasn’t always been straight forward – these have be ironed out quite quickly by updating the iPads however. With PIVATS being quite a large and complex system, not all the parts of each sub level have been explored by staff. It isn’t until each part has been accessed we can tell that there has been a glitch.

A small group of parents were asked to trial 2Engage parents, we found that initially, the proforma was unwieldy for parent use with an unfriendly format. We felt the format was too complex. We are a small Special school of 90 pupils, 18 different languages are spoken by our parents and pupils, a clearer format is required which will enable all our parents to access their email and celebrate their child’s achievements with us.

The same format appeared to apply to all age groups. The program was designed to be used by EYFS pupils and staff, since we are an all age school the language and format is not appropriate to our older students.  Schools can change the language and the format of the proforma to suit their own needs however – as a school we now need to decide on an appropriate format for Primary, Secondary and 6th Form pupils. Each department will meet to design an appropriate template which will satisfy the needs of that department.

The process for inviting parents to join 2Engage often landed in parents spam boxes, and several emails needed to be sent out along with a written letter and often a phone call home to inform parents that the email had been sent. Some parents had incorrectly written down their email address causing further confusion.

The project will take considerably longer to develop that initially expected, primarily because (for the various reasons indicated above) the time between response to initial and confirmation emails. Some parents who use email on a regular basis emailed their address straight into school, which did allow the process to be set up quickly.

Next Steps

  • Additional training time will be required to bring new staff up to speed with 2Build a profile.

Three new teachers have started at school this academic year who will require training from scratch. We also have a number of new teaching assistants who require the same training. Some staff have also asked for a refresher to remind themselves full of all the functions of 2Build a profile. Therefore it’s envisaged that training would be provided for new staff and all those staff who wish to attend. The training will take place in school stay-back time.

  • Provide continual training to improve staff annotation of the learning that has taken place.

The annotation is the precise narrative that staff write which demonstrates that the learning has taken place. Often a picture can only capture a moment and it doesn’t show the majority of the learning that has taken place, or the prompting that staff have had to give in order for the pupil to have achieved the task. The annotation should put into context the learning the pupil has achieved. Annotation also is used when Special Schools moderate pupils work to ensure that there is a consistency of approach to the P scales – very much in the same ways as Primary schools will hold moderation meetings in order to ensure that there is a consistency in marking pupils work against a set of criteria.

  • Develop a system for adding video clips into the pupil files and annotating them.
  • Redesign  proformas to accurately reflect the learning that has taken place in an age appropriate format – primary, secondary & sixth form.
  • Continue to increase the number of parents engaging with 2Engage parents.
  • Create a guide on using photographic evidence to support pupils assessment and feedback process.

You can download a short reflective report on the project here:

Mapping Achievement (2015) Nether Hall School (word)

Mapping Achievement (2015) Nether Hall School (PDF)

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