5 Ways that Balance Supports ‘Learning First’

Here are five real examples of how Balance, our online formative assessment system, supports learning first in the classroom…

1. It is possible to ensure that effective feedback happens whilst also reducing staff workload

At the recent North West Learning First Conference, led by Dame Alison Peacock (CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching), there was an entire workshop around Reducing workload and improving effective feedback led by the assistant head of St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School in Cheshire, Emily Reid.

Using Balance, Emily presented how they have stopped marking completely in many of their classes and how they have seen a clear improvement in the progress that their children make as a result.

Not only this, but staff are now coming to work having had a proper nights’ sleep and an enjoyable weekend, more able to concentrate on making their lessons as exciting as possible for their pupils.

How this works in practice:

For example, the teacher asks a question and each pupil writes their name on a post-it note. On leaving the classroom, the pupil then puts the post it in the envelope which they think is the correct answer (A,B, C, or D).

The teacher then takes the post-it and uses this to group pupils for the next lesson, and can record their assessment on the depth of their learning overall using Balance.

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2. We cannot rely on statutory data alone to tell a child’s story

By using formative assessment throughout the school year and a child’s whole education journey, teachers are able to react more fluidly to the different speeds of progress that different children make.

When we rely on statutory assessment alone, we limit our children’s potential by missing the gaps in learning or even miss the opportunities to use their strengths to support other areas of their learning.

This is a core assessment principle which Balance promotes: the ultimate accountability should be with the child. And guess what happens? When we encourage a greater depth of understanding throughout education, progress outcomes improve! Surely this is the end-game we are all aiming for.

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3. The curriculum needs to be exciting for teachers so that it is irresistible to pupils

Engagement starts with the teacher’s passion for a subject area. This passion is contagious and thus ensures the children’s excitement, leading to an improved learning process.

This then feeds back into the teachers, fuelling them with more passion as a result of the progress that their pupils make.

Would you rather spend 3 hours marking or 3 hours planning an exciting curriculum? By using Balance in the classroom — giving effective feedback and recording the children’s small steps of progress at the point of learning — staff are free to ignite their passion through their planning.

Useful learning resouce link: http://www.chesterzoo.org/education/learning-resources

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4. Effective assessment should be: efficient; dependable; focused on progress; and diagnostic…

We firmly believe that for assessment to be truly effective, it needs to be efficient and easy to administer, dependable, focused on supporting children’s progress, and diagnostic to support early and targeted intervention.

Above all, assessment should not apply teacher, school or institutional bias! As Mary Myatt says, “we have no right to say whether a pupil is able or not.” We can only make judgements on how pupils are progressing with a particular aspect, so need to distinguish the work from the child.

Balance provides a framework for effective assessment strategies to be put into practice. It ensures that we aren’t just recording for the sake of recording, but that we are able to use the assessment information we are gathering in Balance to plan the most effective next learning steps for each of our pupils.

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5. Learning is not linear!

Balance has no arbitrary groupings, and no ‘best fit’ bands. It is simply a learning journey that follows your children and your curriculum. Schools can create their own footprint of what learning looks like in their school, their class and for their children.

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Take a look for Free!

To find out more, take a look at the Balance web page or, if you are a senior leader, book your free online demonstration for a no-obligation walk-through of the system. Demonstrations are live and interactive, allowing you to ask questions and to focus on the needs of your school.

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