As all of our pupils have Statutory Education, Health and Care Plans for their learning difficulties, the natural assumption from most people, including DFE guidance, is that our children should not be expected to make the same levels of progress from their starting points as those pupils without learning difficulties. At Courtlands we refuse to believe that our children should be limited and we therefore have high expectations of the progress we feel our children are capable of. The high levels of support in class and the expertise shown by our highly trained and experienced staff should be expected to help our children to make outstanding progress in their learning.
At Courtlands, we believe in providing our children with a well-rounded education with a strong emphasis on emotional wellbeing and mental health. With this in mind, we have developed an assessment system that allows us to track progress in not only academic subjects, but also wellbeing. Three times a year we formally assess and evaluate progress in all areas. In addition to this, daily formative assessment takes place for each child which teachers use to plan on a daily basis and to also feed into their individual.
What do we have a statutory duty to report to the department for education and local authority?
We formally report the following to the local authority and department for education:
- The end of EYFS (foundation)
- The Year 1 phonics screening check
- The Year 2 phonics screen check (for pupils who did not meet the standard in year 1)
- The end of key stage 1 (year 2)
- The end of Key stage 2 (year 6)
For the overwhelming majority of children at Courtlands, it is not possible to assess the children at the end of key stages 1 and 2 through SATs testing, therefore our reporting is against a set of pre-key stage standards determined by the department for education.
How do we assess the academic progress of the children in a more detailed way in addition to the statutory reporting arrangements?
We have a 3 tiered approach to academic assessment, which runs alongside our wellbeing assessment. Each child is assessed against the tier that is most appropriate for them on an individual basis.
Tier 1 – EYFS Bands
For all of our EYFS age children and some other children we assess the children according to the EYFS curriculum. We report in bands rather than months, as per guidance from the Bristol Standards.
Band 1 = 0-11 months
Band 2 = 8-20 months
Band 3 = 16-26 months
Band 4 = 22-36 months
Band 5 = 30-50 months
Band 6 = 40-60+ months
Band 7 = Early Learning Goal
Tier 2 – Pre-stage Levels
We use a bespoke series of levels that we have created to bridge the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 3. These range from Pre-stage Level 1 to Pre-stage Level 8. Each Pre-stage Level contains a set of descriptors that build towards the next level, and provide a sound basis for Tier 3. Children will not necessarily start at Pre-stage Level 1 as there is some overlap with Tier 1. This allows for the differences in end points for the children when they move on from the EYFS curriculum.
Tier 3 – Stages
Tier 3 contains four stages that are largely equivalent to the age related expectations of children in years 1 – 4 in mainstream education. There is scope to add to these stages if needed to meet the needs of our children. Each stage contains descriptor that need to be achieved in order for children to progress to the next stage.
Aspects of Cognition and Learning/Engagement
For some of our children (predominantly those working within Tier 1) it is important to assess the children according to the seven aspects of cognition and learning/engagement, as recommended by the Rochford review. These are currently not statutory but they will be in the academic year 2020/21. At Courtlands we use the seven aspects to aid formative assessment and these are discussed with parents and carers at least three times a year at parent-teacher meetings. The seven aspects are:
How do we assess the wellbeing of the children?
All children, no matter what tier of academic assessment they are under, are assessed in the following areas:
- Play skills
We use 10-point descriptors for each of these areas which allow us to monitor the wellbeing progress of the children and to aid teachers in understanding specific areas that individual children need support with. Scores are combined to produce a wellbeing score out of 50.
In addition to this, all children (except those receiving an EYFS curriculum) are taught and assessed through a bespoke designed wellbeing curriculum which consists of:
- Healthy Mind
- Healthy Body
- Healthy Body – PE
This allows the children to learn key skills that support their complex needs. Typical subjects that you would find in mainstream primary schools (such as science for example) are taught through the areas above. We have three skill sets in each of these areas, each with their own 10-point descriptors. Together they combine to form a score up to 150.
Assessing Specific Individual Provision
In addition to whole school assessment systems, children are also assessed according to their Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs.) We ensure that the children’s individual needs are met by assessing progress against EHCP targets. We track this through annual reviews and individual education plans and we record specific interventions on individual provision maps. Some of this provision includes interventions that can be tracked, for example Precision Instruction. In these cases, teachers assess progress on a regular basis and use this information to plan for next steps. Our therapists use strengths and difficulties questionnaires in order to track the progress of their interventions.
Assessment and the Curriculum
The children are given the opportunity to learn a wider range of skills and information that the assessment criteria focus on. We do not solely teach to assessment measures. Children are exposed to sequences of lessons that provide a well-rounded curriculum that is individually tailored to meet the needs of the children at Courtlands. The curriculum and assessment systems are under constant review to ensure that we always meet the continually evolving needs of the children.
Below are a number of documents which show how well our children perform against school expectations. Much of the language used is quite specific to people who work in schools, but the broad ideas are relatively easy to understand. We colour code the information to aid understanding and a general guide to you is that if it is coloured blue, it means the children are exceeding our expectations. If they are green, then it means the children meeting our expectations. If they are yellow, they are slightly below our expectations and if they are red, they are well below our expectations.
If you would like any further explanations, please contact us and we will be happy to help.