New Leader – d) Assessment and Evidence - Primary Leadership Journey

By Phil Wickins posted 20-06-2024 13:48


This blog explores assessment and evidence in primary computing as part of the leadership Journey, and is covered in more detail in the third and fourth sessions of Leading Primary Computing – Module 1. If you want a more comprehensive and thorough CPD course on this area, please explore our fantastic whole day course on Assessment in Primary Computing. There is also a short course in Assessing computational thinking in primary schools.

Click on the image below to navigate through the different areas of the Primary Computing Leadership Journey, links will appear as blog entries are written: 

Leadership Pathway

So how do you assess, and use assessment in computing? This question will elicit a different response from every leader you ask; every school is different. There are however some fundamental approaches in pedagogy; for example the benefits of formative assessment in adaptive teaching and summative assessment for leaders to understand the performance of the subject across the school. In the Big Computing Leadership Survey, many leaders said that assessment and evidence were the main things they required guidance in:

There seems to be a fine line between assessing well, and excessive workload. One of the things the NCCE have done with the Teach Computing Curriculum is to create digital versions of the Summative Assessment Quizzes. These are online versions of the KS2 summative assessment documents which the children can complete online, sending the results straight to a spreadsheet either for the teacher or the subject lead to analyse. They can now be found on the TCC website, at the top of each unit page next to the document version of the summative quiz: 

TCC website online assessment link

These quizzes appear on about half of the KS2 units, the other half have rubrics. Rubrics provide more of an indication of emerging, expected and exceeding than a score from a quiz, hence a mixture of the two approaches is helpful. Sometimes with a rubric, there is a risk that teachers do not complete one for each child as it is too time consuming. If not explained correctly, teachers can also ‘tick off’ elements as they are taught, showing curriculum coverage rather than a pupil’s achievement. I have witnessed a tendency for teachers to sometimes award pupils who are emerging in core subjects an emerging level in computing and similarly assume the expected and exceeding pupils will match across subjects too. So how can we get the best out of rubrics without increasing workload?

Creating new engaging ways to assess using the rubrics can boost the impact and reduce the time it takes. One of my favourite activities at the end of a computing unit is to give the pupils a copy of the rubric content, but rename the ‘emerging, expected & exceeding’ with alternative headings and create an activity around it. For example, in the Year 6 Websites unit, I tell them that they are now a salesperson, pitching to the client how their website meets the criteria. I rename the column ‘emerging’ with £10,000, ‘expected’ with £50,000 and ‘exceeding’ with £1m, telling them that is what they can (fictitiously) win if they meet the criteria in the columns. They can have this information at the start of the project so they can work towards it throughout the unit, they can also work in pairs where one is the sales person and the other the client. Ultimately, this is not only increasing the pupil’s self-awareness and collaboration, it is also giving them an opportunity to evaluate and amend and critically, taking some of the workload off the teacher, as the peer and self-assessed rubrics will serve as a much easier starting point than the teacher trawling through individual projects one by one, with no narrative from the pupil. 

This is just one way to use rubrics, but getting the pupils more involved in any assessment process can be more engaging for them and when done earlier in the project or unit, can produce better outcomes, as they are more aware of their next steps and end goals. 

How do you use assessment? How to you gather evidence to support this? Let us know in the comments!

Next blog: Monitoring and Auditing
Previous blog: Curriculum

CQF: If you have signed up to complete the Computer Quality Framework, then any activity undertaken in this incremental section of the Leadership Journey would count towards to the 'Teaching, Learning and Assessment' dimension of the CQF.