St John Fisher is an 11-18 mixed Catholic comprehensive
Working within the context of a developing Science department the aim was to raise the standards of scientific communication, and therefore progress, of learners at all levels through creating a rigid feedback policy that was regularly monitored and evaluated.
This was an area where the department was found to be underperforming in recent Ofsted inspections and faculty reviews.
Student voice showed that the majority of students favoured verbal feedback from teachers rather than written feedback. Members of staff from the department were sent on courses on marking and feedback and research was used from EEF (Education Endowment Foundation). Curriculum leaders within the department agreed on a faculty-wide feedback strategy using a variety of feedback styles seen in network meetings, particularly agreeing on STAR sheets for assessments.
Feedback was used to create a new assessment model at KS3. Moving to life without levels gave the department the opportunity to create completely new assessments built around feedback and improvement. Progress was then judged based on skill mastery rather than percentage attainment.
Feedback was acted on by curriculum leaders to improve the quality of responses at all levels, transferring some of the good practice from KS4 to KS5.
Grading was removed at Year 10, trialling feedback on skills only to learners.
Student voice, staff voice, learning walks, Senior team scrutiny, faculty review
By the end of Year 2 a Faculty review highlighted that the overall attitude from students to their work had improved greatly when the assessment policy was followed consistently. Shared work reviews in meetings highlighted that there was a wide variety of feedback strategies being used which led to the creation of a good practice folder. More students now prefer written feedback as opposed to verbal feedback. Ofsted inspection highlighted that the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in Science was improving.
By the end of Year 3 Science was highlighted as an area of good practice, and the method has now become a whole-school strategy for marking.
The resources and techniques used to drive this project were all a result of wider reading and networking with other schools, a support network we continue to draw upon. One of the biggest changes to assessment has been moving away from grading work at all levels, a practice staff and students are still uncomfortable with. However, it has had significant successes in raising the expectations of learners at all levels and work scrutiny clearly shows that scientific literacy is improving as a direct result.
David Fairclough, email@example.com