Developing Learning and Teaching
High quality teaching leads to high quality learning. Students learn best when they are taught by inspiring and passionate teachers who have high levels of professionalism and subject knowledge and can develop and foster positive relationships. We support our staff in continually improving their practice by ensuring access to high quality professional learning and through a focus on collaborative enquiry.
At Penicuik High School we aim to offer an inclusive learning environment which has a positive impact on our students. This is achieved by promoting inclusion, equality, equity and developing positive relationships. Teachers focus on and address the needs of all students and remove or reduce any barriers to learning across all curricular areas. We have high expectations for all students and a belief that all young people should be successful.
At Penicuik High School we aim to deliver the following aims through our learning, teaching and assessment practices, particularly our current Big 5 Project:
- foster our PRIDE values amongst all in our school community
- provide learning which is stimulating, active, inspirational and relevant
- develop assessment capable students who have an understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement
- provide opportunities for students to self and peer assess pieces of work
- ensure a wide range of effective learning and teaching approaches that are based on current research – Big 5 Project
- provide learning opportunities which are student centred and provide an element of personalisation and choice
- recognise progress, achievement and successes and effectively track progress within a level and into the next level
- support the social, emotional and physical needs of the students
- develop independent students who are resilient and can use strategies to support their learning
We facilitate effective and consistent learning and teaching across the school through our ‘Big 5 Project’ which encourages 5 key strategies of assessment for learning to be developed consistently by all staff. These methodologies encourage dialogue and collaboration amongst staff and students and we are particularly aiming to develop student voice in learning through our Big 5 project and the different phases of development. We also aim for students to be challenged and engaged in their learning. This involves promoting opportunities for learners to be autonomous and we believe that effective feedback is central to developing our students’ knowledge, attitudes, skills and the researched habits of effective learners.
Assessment is an integral part of learning and teaching. It helps to provide a picture of a student’s progress and achievements in order to identify next steps in learning. See next section
At Penicuik High School this will also develop what is known as assessment capable students, where students are able to respond positively to assessment feedback in order to progress and improve. Our assessment is based primarily on formative feedback which will give the opportunity for all students to succeed – and to develop a positive growth mind-set. In the Broad General Education (BGE), staff judgements will focus on assessing skills, attributes and capabilities against the National Benchmarks, leading to achievement of a level. In the Senior Phase students will experience assessment practices which lead to National Qualifications.
Assessment is used to track and monitor progress, which is reported to both students and parents at regular intervals. As part of the reporting process, students engage in self-reflection, supported by learner conversations, to identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
In Session 2020-21 we will be introducing a new language of assessment to be used to describe the levels of performance within a level and this will be shown within our new reporting systems. We have developed clear guidelines for staff around assessing formatively and combatively.
Formative and Summative Assessment
Guidance 1: Regular formative assessment should occur in the course of everyday teaching and learning across all subjects and use a variety of formats including rubrics. These formative assessment items should where possible be co-created and take into account prior learning. Formative assessment outcomes should be recorded where appropriate and help form a body of evidence of learner progress. Formative assessment items should be used to promote student’s knowledge of their progress and next steps using the new currency of assessment –see next section. Some consideration should be given to validity where making long or short term planning decisions about teaching content or process.
Guidance 2: All summative assessment must be moderated within subject areas paying close attention to validity and reliability. Where appropriate consideration could be given to external moderation by another subject area or another school in the same subject area. Education Scotland guidance should be noted in relation to ensuring summative assessments represent an opportunity to collect evidence of breadth, challenge and application. Assessment should be from any of the four contexts of learning with: Breadth representing the fact learners are drawing on a range of learning experience across different E and O’s, Challenge representing evidence of higher order thinking skills based on e.g. SOLO taxonomy and the promotion of meta-cognitive skills and Application representing the fact learners are tested across a range of contexts particularly real life contexts.
Guidance 3: Benchmark materials of formative assessment judgements should be kept across a five year period to ensure standards of moderated outcomes are maintained using the new assessment currency.
Language of Assessment Performance (Assessment Currency)
The following four levels of assessment performance will be used across all teaching areas to describe outcomes for learners within a level in the BGE. (S1-S3) from 2020-21.They should be used to describe performance in the various assessment items that make up subject course in the BGE and to describe overall performance when tracking and monitoring or reporting to students, parents and carers. The performance should be evidenced by high quality assessment and using teacher professional judgement that is supported by appropriate moderation and benchmarking over time.
Progressing to Achieving the Level – Code P – Colour PURPLE
This descriptor of performance within a level indicates that the student’s assessments results, while showing some progress in their learning also evidence that they have not yet mastered all of the outcomes (from CfE outcomes) required to be secure in their learning.
Achieving the Level – Code A – Colour Bronze
This descriptor of performance within a level indicates that the student’s assessments results, show progress in their learning and evidence that they have mastered all of the significant outcomes (from CfE outcomes) required to be secure in their learning.
Achieving the level with Merit – Code M – Colour Silver
This descriptor of performance within a level indicates that the student’s assessments results show above average progress in their learning and evidence that they have mastered all of the significant outcomes (from CfE outcomes) required to be secure in their learning.
Achieving the level with Excellence – Code E – Colour Gold
This descriptor of performance within a level indicates that the student’s assessments results show excellent progress in their learning and evidence that they have mastered all of the significant outcomes (from CfE outcomes) required to be secure in their learning.
The manner in which subject areas delineate the criteria to reach a particular level of performance is not prescribed but as stated all subject areas will be expected to demonstrate that they have robust and clear evidence of performance within those levels that are benchmarked and moderated over time from 2020-21.
Creating a description of performance within a CfE level is a clear and systematic approach to ensuring pace and challenge is built into our learning, teaching and assessment practice. It will help promote metacognitive/ higher order skills and challenge staff and students to think about what excellence looks like and how it can be attained. It also will promote self and peer evaluation and student voice – providing a clear vehicle for discussions with learners about progress and next steps.
Recording and Tracking Performance
From 2020-21 – All subject areas will maintain mark books that indicate the level of performance for each assessed item (valid and reliable formative or summative items as agreed within subject areas) so that they can report on progress for that curriculum area
Assessment of overall performance in a subject/ curriculum area will be through consideration of the overall quality of performance across all the assessed items at that point within the course and will be based on teacher professional judgement informed by moderation and collegiate dialogue.