Our new Curriculum and Assessment at Sunnyside

In September 2014 the Government introduced a New Curriculum for Primary Schools. This has had an effect on what your children learn at school every day. At Sunnyside we took this as an opportunity to introduce our WOW curriculum which engages and stimulates learning through memorable experiences, visits, visitors and events. Hopefully you have seen and heard evidence of this from your children and looked at the photos on our school website and at our ‘Big Books’ when you come to parents evenings.

There are now more changes on the way. Many of you have grown used to a discussion about levels with your child or at parents evening with our staff. You are aware that your children should reach say a level 2b at the end of Year 2 or a level 4 at the end of Year 6. This will change from September 2015. Here are some facts you need to know to help you understand the changes:

  • The Department for Education (DfE) have told us not to use levels to assess children.
  • From September we will use ‘Bands’ when talking about the assessment of your children’s work.
  • Bands broadly represent School Years, e.g. Band 1 statements are associated with Year 1 and Band 2 statements are associated with Year 2. However, a distinction is made between Bands and Years as Bands may have a broader spectrum where some pupils may be working above or below their School Year progression.
  • Within each Band there are six steps. They are used to show progress and attainment across each band so enabling teachers to monitor a pupil’s overall attainment.

These steps are:

b = beginning

b+ = beginning plus

w = working within

w+ = working within plus

s = secure

s+ = secure plus

So for example. You may have a child in Year 2. You come to parent’s evening and Miss Lunn tells you that in maths your child is working in Band 2 Step b+. She will then explain exactly what that means so that you and your child understand what they have learned and what they need to do to move to Band 2 Step w. We would then help them to progress to step w+ and so on.

At Sunnyside Academy tracking progress involves all children and all staff, all of the time.

The information gathered will, from September 2015, be fed into our Target Tracker system, where it will be analysed and used as a tool to measure a child’s performance.

We also ensure that we give regular feedback to children on how they can make better progress at school.

This process is given high status and is driven by the leadership team. We call it Assertive Mentoring and it is the central activity which drives forward school improvement and pupil achievement. It is an integral part of our School Improvement Plan. It is a focus for our Core curriculum. It is a focus for our children and their parents

Assertive Mentoring through Target Tracker is an active process rather than an activity. It is a collective term for the key processes of our school’s work.

The key components are: 

  • School Self Evaluation
  • Data analysis
  • School improvement planning
  • Target setting: long, medium and short-term
  • Pupil tracking
  • Intervention and support systems
  • Monitoring
  • Performance Management Systems

The key outcomes are:

  • True Assessment for Learning
  • A personalised curriculum
  • Raised standards for all

It facilitates:

  • Continual and consistent assessment
  • Effective feedback to pupils and parents
  • Pupil and peer-assessment
  • Marking and feedback
  • Home-school partnerships

Assertive Mentoring provides the vehicle for ensuring that these often separate entities are brought together and wrapped around the child. The child remains central to the whole process throughout.

“Strategies to raise achievement in reading, writing and mathematics through assertive mentoring are making a positive difference. Standards are improving rapidly and pupils are making good progress in their learning and achieving well from their diverse starting points.” Ofsted May 2011

Central to the whole process, and the initial reasoning behind the introduction of Assertive Mentoring at Sunnyside, is the understanding that information is shared with the child in an understandable and consistent format. It is a whole school approach accessible to all our children.

Assertive mentoring through Target Tracker takes targets from the head’s desk to the child’s head. It gives all stakeholders; teachers, managers, parents and pupils a framework which makes sense of these often unrelated activities and provides a focus on the individual child achieving their potential.

Assertive Mentoring is a guaranteed, regular, one to one dialogue between pupil and mentor. It is evidence based and focused on ‘The Triple A’;

  • Attainment
  • Achievement
  • Attitude

Progress towards long term targets is reviewed as well as the achievement of medium term targets. Further meaningful medium term targets are agreed. Targets are carefully chosen from agreed assessment criteria so as to be both challenging yet achievable and to have the greatest impact on performance. These targets transfer to pupils’ personal mentor files and form the focus of continual assessment, marking, feedback and support.

Our Target Tracker system enables us to assess, evaluate and set targets for all children.

In Early Years we use Target Tracker to record ongoing assessments. Within the first six weeks of your child entering our Nursery we complete a baseline profile which we share with you. On entering our Reception class we once again measure your child’s development using the Early Excellence Baseline tool. We will discuss the results of this with you as well. When your child leaves our Reception class they will once again be measured so we can assess their progress towards a good level of development.

We have comprehensive assessments in Core curriculum areas running across the school, understood by pupils and parents as well as professionals. Children know and understand what their ‘Big maths’ or Big write’ is for. Children know and understand their individual targets for behaviour and attitude and discuss these knowledgeably with staff during assertive mentoring meetings.

These are monitored and moderated by Core curriculum leaders and discussed with SMLT and with individual teachers.

We are part of a network of schools across Middlesbrough using Assertive Mentoring through Target Tracker to actively and comprehensively raise standards for our children. These schools meet regularly. We share ideas. We evaluate one others work. Staff from other schools have visited Sunnyside and observed ‘Big maths’ and mentoring sessions commenting on the outstanding way our children communicate about their learning and how to move it on.

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