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Maximising impact: formative assessment

Formative assessment is a familiar strategy to all in education.  It’s the day-to-day appraisal of students’ knowledge, understanding and progress so that teachers can identify gaps in learning and plan to address these in the subsequent lessons.

Formative assessment has consistently been identified as an effective strategy in maximising impact on student progress.  Shirley Clarke’s ‘ingredients of formative assessment’ (2014) can be utilised as examples of applicable strategies when embedding formative assessment 

  • A learning culture, where children and teachers have a growth mindset, self-belief, meta-cognitive skills and the belief that all can succeed
  • Involving pupils at the planning stage to enhance motivation and ownership  
  • A ‘no hands up’ culture, where children are resources for one another and all can be included in class discussion
  • Clear learning objectives shared with pupils
  • Co-constructed success criteria
  • Effective questioning, especially at beginnings of lessons, to establish current understanding and prior knowledge
  • A continual quest to find out how far children are understanding their learning, so that individual and class feedback and the direction of the lesson can be adjusted appropriately
  • Examples of excellence analysed and shared, before children produce their own ‘product’
  • Feedback from peers and teachers which focuses on successes, where the excellence is and where improvements are needed.
  • Cooperative peer feedback in which examples of improvement are modelled via mid-lesson learning stops, so that feedback and improvement-making is immediate and part of a lesson
  • Effective ends to lessons, where learning is summarised and reflected upon. 

Adapted from Shirley Clarke (2014)Outstanding Formative Assessment: Culture and Practice, Hodder Education Group. 

Formative assessment is a key pillar of teaching at Tute, embedded into every lesson and essential in informing our online pedagogy. In the absence of the visual cues you might have face-to-face in a classroom, we have adopted additional strategies in order to ensure that teachers are confident in using assessment to inform teaching and learning. This maximises impact in our online setting, but evidence suggests it works in all contexts.  The Education Endowment project, ‘Embedding Formative Assessment’ found that schools where formative assessment is embedded make an additional two months progress and that progress was most profound on those students with lower prior attainment: ‘The additional progress made by children in the lowest third for prior attainment was greater than that made by children in the highest third.’ 

At Tute, we are always working on maximising impact. If you’d like to hear about our successes, please take a look at what our partners say and what our students say about how Tute has worked for them. 

Dr. Sharon Smith
Impact and Evaluation Manager

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