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Wider Curriculum Assessments

What is the meaning of assessment in education?

Assessment is the systematic basis for making judgements about the learning and development of pupils. It is the process of defining, selecting, designing, collecting, analysing, interpreting, and using information to increase students’ learning and development.

Why this is important?

When making assessments in the wider curriculum (subjects excluding maths and English), we need to ensure that the processes outlined above are clear and impactful. Teachers need to ensure that assessment supports the development of pupils, the curriculum and the staff delivering it. There has been an over-emphasis of ‘collecting data’ that has prevented teachers from developing curriculums due to the onerous process of inputting data. As a school, we have ensured that our curriculum is broad, balanced and meaningful for our pupils. Once we were confident in the design of our curriculum, we then knew we were ready to start assessing performance against it.

As a staff, we discussed what meaningful assessment looked like in wider curriculum areas. Subject leaders were reluctant to just assess against progress models to see if children had, or had not, met the expected standard. Leaders also felt passionate about not making children sit formal exams, when they could be spending more time immersed in the curriculum. We therefore selected certain drivers that would support the assessment of pupils in wider curriculum subjects.

What assessment looks like in the wider curriculum

For assessing subjects in the wider curriculum, we use the following flow chart.

Curriculum Content

It is vital that the content within wider curriculum subjects are progressive and engaging for children within the context of Coleridge. As a result, subject leaders have devised a bespoke curriculum that develops children’s understanding. The curriculum content is aligned to the National Curriculum; however, subject leaders have been able to use their knowledge to create curriculums that will benefit our children and give them the greatest opportunities to succeed. During the ongoing cycle of assessment, subject leaders may notice adaptations they would like to make with their curriculum and are empowered to do so. This may be adapting knowledge organisers, concepts or even units of work depending on what learning walks identify.

Lesson Drop ins

During lesson drop ins, subject leaders are evaluating the content being delivered, how this content is disseminated and observing the children’s level of engagements and knowledge. The subject leader should not comment on any pedological developments the teachers need to make but discuss practitioners’ subject knowledge and ways to support children develop their understanding. Subject leaders will complete Subject Progress Review documents, noting down observations and feedback to improve the quality of the sessions. Any observations of good practice will be shared in briefings and staff meetings to ensure a consistent approach to teaching the subject is adhered to. If the subject leader noticed a child with any specific need, they would highlight them to the teacher after the session and advise ways to support.

Low-Stakes Assessment

As stated earlier, we are keen not to have formal tests for each subject area. Mary Myatt discusses at length in Primary Huh that low-stakes assessments can inform teachers in more depth than an isolated test. Myatt also argues that testing formally wastes valuable learning time when pupils could be deepening their knowledge. As a result, subject leaders have built into their lesson structures opportunities to assess using low-stakes approaches such as short quizzes, retrieval opportunities and the use of knowledge organiser activities. As a result of these low-stakes tests, class teachers have the flexibility to adapt sessions to ensure that all pupils have the appropriate scaffolds to achieve success. These low-stakes tests may ensure that a retrieval practice activity at the beginning of the next session has a specific focus or that identified pupils need some post or pre-teach support. The main aim of low-stakes testing is to have an impact now, not 5 weeks into a unit whilst simultaneously reducing anxiety placed on young learners that formal and high-stakes tests can cause. Teachers will apply low-stakes tests and retrieve information to track whether pupils remember key aspects of the subject taught; Additionally, they inform the subject leader of content pupils may find too challenging or not challenging enough.

Book Audits

Book audits are a helpful way of assessing the content of the curriculum delivered whilst also observing if a child is achieving success against the progress models. Subject leaders will assess the content covered linked to the progress model which will help inform some of the questions asked at Pupil Voice interviews. Subject leaders will feed back to class teachers about any adaptations that need to be made linked to the content in books. Staff will record the books monitored on the Subject Progress Reviews and if children have met the expected standards or not met the standards linked to the progress models.


Subject exemplification books are created by subject leaders and used to moderate judgements against exemplified standards. This is one of the foundations that our judgements are build upon as subject leaders work with class teachers to moderate what standard a child is working at. A child can either work at the expected standard (EXS) or has not met the expected standard (NMS) and these judgements will be quality assured by the subject leader against their exemplification book. During these meetings, class teachers will share their end points with subject leaders and critique if children have a secure, independent understanding of the content covered.

Pupil Interviews

Pupil Interviews are vital when looking at measuring children’s progress and attainment. We use these interviews to question the children’s understanding of the subject. There is a broad focus during these interviews and leaders will focus on learning from past terms or years to ensure that knowledge is sticking. During the interview, subject leaders will identify common misconceptions or next steps that would support individuals or groups of learners and then will report this back to class teachers. Pupils thrive when showing what learning they have mastered and feel like they have a voice in the direction of the subject. Pupils are asked to discuss end points in each subject and how they have developed the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve these ambitious end points. This gives children clarity on the reasons why learning has been ordered in such a way.

Subject Progress Reports

We have developed a working document that helps subject leaders capture all this information during the academic year. The Progress report focuses on the strengths of the subject, which can be shared with colleagues but more importantly, the areas that either pupils, teachers or subject leaders need to work on to improve the curriculum to ensure that all learners are achieving. As these reports are working documents, they are a helpful reflective tool and can sport RAG rating subject action plans and shaping CPD and support to raise standards.

Below is an example of the SPR: