The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Exams and formal assessment

John Dabell

Preparing for SATs: what works?

It's the time of year for preparing Year 6 pupils to be 'SATs-ready'. John Dabell offers suggestions for success. Every Year 6 teacher in England has the unenviable task of preparing pupils for the highlight of the year: the Key Stage 2 SATs! SATs preparation can be emotionally draining, and we don...
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Gareth D Morewood

GCSE results day: will Progress 8 make a difference?

Now results are in, Gareth D Morewood explores how the new measure of performance, Progress 8, may affect how we value success. As we get towards the end of the of the summer break there is a mixture of feelings for teachers across the UK and indeed further afield. Not only the trepidation of...
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Lisa Griffin

Question time for the DfE: primary assessment

We put the DfE in the hot seat at our recent primary assessment conference and asked the questions you wanted the answers to. Two years on from the assessment reforms in primary schools and we still have grey areas. What will Ofsted judge your pupils’ progress against next year? What will the 2016...
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Gareth D Morewood

How inclusive is assessment?

With the exam season in full swing, Gareth Morewood explores the changes to assessment that SENCOs need to be aware of. A few weeks ago in SENCology we considered how important an inclusive curriculum is, and prior to that, access arrangements and GCSE exams . Over the last few months one thing...
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Amanda Hipkiss

Access arrangements: changing rules and criteria

Schools face a significant challenge regarding equality and access with regard to different exams and the support that is allowed to ensure fair access. Amanda Hipkiss, PhD researcher and former SENCo summarises, the key messages as they now stand. What are access arrangements? Access arrangements...
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Gareth D Morewood

Access arrangements: an additional exam stress

One of the biggest stresses for SENCos is the assessment and application of access arrangements. What examples of best practice do you have of handling the process? Gareth D Morewood outlines the system at his school. In practice We are fortunate to have a full-time PhD student working in...
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Owen Carter

Towards the core principles of primary assessment

Owen Carter speaks to Michael Tidd about the principles that should underpin a school's approach to assessment. What can pupils do, and what can’t they do? Seems like a pretty simple way of approaching assessment. But the fact is that levels became a shorthand where that question was often obscured...
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Owen Carter

Assessing without levels in secondary schools

‘Who’s in panic?’ The raised hands that greeted this opening question from Jason Tudor showed exactly why teachers chose to attend our conference on Secondary Assessment after Levels on the 16 th October. In Ofsted’s words, assessment is now a school-led system: without levels, schools’ assessment...
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Gareth D Morewood

Exam season, stress and anxiety

This time of year is dominated by assessments and examinations, from KS2 SATs through to GCSE and ‘A’ Level exams and beyond. As someone who always struggled with a formal exam as a mechanism of assessment I sympathise with young people who find the model of assessing them challenging. It is only...
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