Frog Conference GUEST BLOG: Simon Smith, Head Teacher, East Whitby Primary School

Simon Smith, Head Teacher at East Whitby Primary School has approached assessment in a unique way that’s delivered truly profound results. You can hear Simon’s story at our Birmingham Conference on Tuesday 7 June or in London on Thursday 23 June. Here’s a snapshot of his inspirational story…

Improving learning with FrogProgress

The overall aim of any school must be to improve the child’s learning. At East Whitby we started this process by tackling teachers’ assessment workload. Assessment has to be right to help the children improve their work and progress in their learning.

For the Head Teacher the challenge is to get the teachers to engage with the assessment changes needed and to see the purpose. They have to see how assessing in a different way makes them more effective teachers.

Understand individual needs

In all of this FrogProgress was a focus for discussions and a tool that enabled the changes. It gives the teachers really easy to use visual displays of what’s going on with individual children and their whole class. Our staff of course know their children well, but these visuals from FrogProgress improve their ability to compare and enable moderation between teachers and classes.

Teachers are now confident in their judgements and really value the discussions. There were some disparities between teachers, not many, over-estimating achievements but some were quite seriously under-estimating what level the children had reached – now we more closely agree on the standards.

Strong SLT commitment

In changing our assessment approach we looked at and discussed the NAHT KPI approach, agreed what assessments to do – and what not to do. This laid the basis for planning lessons, making it clearer what  critical learning points needed to be worked on. The visuals in FrogProgress are critical here too, acting as an aide-memoir of where the class as a whole and individuals are in their learning.

This is a process that needs strong SLT commitment. The whole process has had high value because we as a team value it and give time and commitment to it. We stress with the teachers that the key question is, “why do assessments if they don’t directly help learning?” We don’t stress and worry about data as lots of schools do, because we know we have really effective data that shows what is important.

Reducing workload and more effective lesson time

As to workload, while initially some of the teachers may have feared using the system was an extra task, it is now so fully embedded it is just part of what they do and they can see how the overall assessment changes are more time-effective. It has allowed us to strip back on marking. Comments on pupils’ work are now only made to help the children move forward and marking that overwhelms them is avoided. The focus is always on progress and challenge, leading to mastery.

By far the biggest impact of all this work on assessment is that lesson time is now being used much more effectively. The teachers have got the work they set spot on for the children, with improved differentiation, more personalisation and targeted interventions. We used to run intervention programmes, now all our interventions are targeted on needs – because we can see these much more clearly thanks to FrogProgress.

To hear more from Simon, book your place at our summer conferences this June.


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