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Reduce workload in your school: Be streamlined – collect once, use many times

Back to school! Everyone involved in education begins September full of enthusiasm and ambition to make this year the best one yet. The government’s Workload Toolkit, released at the end of July, encourages schools to identify and address the workload issues in your school and the beginning of the year feels like a great time to re-evaluate approaches to data and assessment.

So, what can Classroom Monitor help you with? Let’s look at the things that have been suggested to focus on:

Communications: Classroom Monitor provides you with a number of tools to enable you to quickly and effectively share the assessment information that teachers record as part of day to day life in the classroom. Outputs can be generated to share pupil progress with parents online or in paper summaries as well as being used to focus conversations between members of staff about individuals.

Curriculum planning and resources: Reduce planning time by using prior assessment information in the markbooks to group pupils and make progress in their learning. Resources can also be saved and shared between teachers in your school to save even more time.

Data Management: “Collecting, inputting and monitoring data can create unnecessary work” (DfE independent review group report on Data Management) so make sure all the data that your school collects, inputs and monitors is necessary. The principles that the DfE set out should be crucial in informing your plans for assessment this year:

• Be streamlined- ‘collect once, use many times’ is a central principle of Classroom Monitor; any data that you input can output into various forms to perform a variety of tasks. This means that you don’t have to spend time entering similar information into a number of different systems to get the outputs you need.

• Be ruthless- don’t collect data that isn’t going to support outcomes for children. Beyond the end of key stage, no external body expects you to collect any particular data in any particular format so don’t collect something just because you think someone else might need to see it.

• The amount of data should be proportionate to its usefulness- How many data points are actually useful in your school over the course of the year? If you don’t leave enough of a gap between data points, the danger is that the trends or changes are statistical rather than providing meaningful insights that impact on learning. You may also want to consider whether you require different approaches in different subjects- one size might not fit all.

• If it doesn’t have an impact on pupils, don’t do it- This seems particularly obvious but can become all too easy to lose sight of. It’s worth taking the time to evaluate your approach to formative assessment and/or summative assessment to make sure that the effort involved has a positive impact on pupil outcomes. “It’s what we’ve always done” doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it that way.

While ensuring that the right amount of time is spent capturing the right assessment is absolutely key, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into creating data reports that mean that you don’t have to spend a disproportionate amount of time getting the data out. We know that data outputs are only ever a starting point for school improvement and that most time needs to be spent on acting upon the data.

Feedback and marking: The key principles here are making it Manageable, Meaningful and Motivating. The Classroom Monitor markbooks allow you to record formative judgements for individuals, against statements that are appropriate for your school, in a quick and easy manner. There are outputs that can be shared with pupils to celebrate successes, highlight targets and visually show their progress to help motivate and engage them in their learning.

Managing change: Whether it be academisation, leadership changes, or moving to a new assessment framework, a truism of teaching is that one year is never the same as the last. This back to school period is the perfect time to make sure that you’re managing that change effectively. The recommendation is to create a yearly overview calendar to make sure that activities are well distributed through the year. Classroom Monitor helps spread the assessment load for teachers, as they can record assessment little and often; they can even spread their report writing load as these can be built over the course of the term or year.

Supporting early career teachers: Having a shared assessment system can help early career teachers get to grips with assessment for learning. Seeing, and recording, evidence alongside assessment judgements can help teachers to increase their confidence in making judgements and can help them to better understand how skills are developing and progressing. In Classroom Monitor, you also have the facility to place guidance directly in the markbooks to inform those judgements.

Workload is consistently given as a reason for dissatisfaction amongst teachers and is a key reason for leaving the profession. The key message from the Workload Toolkit is to take a look at what you are doing, check whether it is having an appropriate and proportionate impact on learning and make improvements as necessary. Classroom Monitor fully subscribes to these principles; we want our system to enable you to record your formative assessment in a quick and efficient way that enables you to generate outputs which reduce workload in many other areas of school life.

If you would like to see first hand how Classroom Monitor supports this approach you can request a demo with one of our assessment experts – book a time that suits you here.

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