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B Squared and the Rochford Review
In July 2015, the Minister for Schools brought together a review group (“The Group”) headed by Diane Rochford. The Group was tasked with the challenge of identifying the best way to ensure that pupils who have not completed the relevant key stage programmes of study (and are therefore working below the standard of statutory testing arrangements) have the opportunity to demonstrate attainment and progress at primary school.
In December 2015, The Group published their interim recommendations. These provide interim pre-key stage standards for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 for pupils who are working below the standard of statutory testing arrangements.
In October 2016, The Rochford Review released their Final Report. It made 10 recommendations regarding the end of key stage statutory assessment of pupils with SEND. There are 10 recommendations in total. Some are focussed on assessment and others are focused on training, good practice and collaborative working. The recommendations are as follows:
- The removal of the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
- The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests are made permanent and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
- Schools assess pupils’ development in all 4 areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice, but statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning.
- A statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the following 7 aspects of cognition and learning and report this to parents and carers:
- Following recommendation 4, schools should decide their own approach to making these assessments according to the curriculum they use and the needs of their pupils.
- Initial teacher training (ITT) and Continuing professional development (CPD) for staff in educational settings should reflect the need for teachers to have a greater understanding of assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those pupils with SEND who are not engaged in subject-specific learning.
- Where there is demonstrable good practice in schools, those schools should actively share their expertise and practice with others. Schools in need of support should actively seek out and create links with those that can help to support them.
- Schools should work collaboratively to develop an understanding of good practice in assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, particularly across different educational settings. Schools should support this by actively engaging in quality assurance, such as through school governance and peer review.
- There should be no requirement to submit assessment data on the 7 areas of cognition and learning to the DfE, but schools must be able to provide evidence to support a dialogue with parents and carers, inspectors, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, school governors and those engaged in peer review to ensure robust and effective accountability.
- Further work should be done to consider the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with EAL.
B Squared's Response
To read our in-depth analysis of the Rochford Review, how this affects B Squared products, and what impact this may have on schools that use them, please follow the link to our Response to the Final Report of the Rochford Review by clicking here.
The content of The Report has not come as a shock to us. It reflects the changes in teaching and ideas that have been implemented over the last few years. The DfE still hasn’t responded to The Report. We believe the next step will be a public consultation on the review before the Government decides on the future of statutory assessment for pupils with SEND. We feel that the DfE will accept the majority of recommendations with minimal alterations.
Our approach to assessment will not fundamentally change. We will still use small steps and use these to build the bigger picture. What will change is the structure of our frameworks, the breadth of our content, an increased focus on the holistic achievements of pupils and how we present the data.
Over the last few years we have been working on a range of projects that have increased the breadth of content from B Squared. We have produced a tool for profiling Autism that covers Communication, Social Interaction, Flexibility of Thought and Emotional Regulation. We have worked on a Developmental Continuum for pupils with profound and complex needs, covering covering Expressive and Receptive Communication, Social and Emotional Affection, Memorative and Imaginative Cognition, and Sensory and Physical Operation. This currently covers the ability of pupils working between levels P1(i) to P3(ii) but we have already been asked to develop this further.
We have also been developing Evisense, our evidence software. Evisense is designed to not only make the process of capturing and storing evidence easier, but to make the evidence more powerful. Evidence can be linked to assessments when it is added and then teachers demonstrate this evidence by filtering in a variety of different ways – by student, by group, by subject or by ability level. For more information on Evisense click here.
How is B Squared Adapting its Products?
Since the release of the The Rochford Review: Final Report we have been working on identifying the best approach to meet the needs of schools now and in the future. It is clear from The Report that all schools will be required/recommended to assess pupils with SEND across all four areas. It is currently unclear how in-depth this will be and how much focus will be placed on Communication and Interaction, Social and Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and/or Physical development for the pupils undertaking subject-specific learning.
In November 2016, we invited our customers and the wider SEND community to be involved in our decision-making. We created a questionnaire to find out what professionals felt about the recommendations and how they believed we could support schools to implement the changes required to meet the recommendations of The Report. The responses helped to guide our planning and development. You can read the results of our Questionnaire by clicking here.
At the BETT Show in January 2017 and the Optimus Education SEND Assessment Conference in February 2017, we sought feedback from our customers regarding our proposed plans. We received overwhelming positive feedback to these changes. Schools were really encouraging about our suggested new framework for students not yet engaged in subject-specific learning that incorporated the four broad areas of need and the seven aspects of engagement. Schools recognised the strengths of integrating the four broad areas of need into one system for students engaged in subject specific learning and agreed that Communication and Interaction; Social, Emotional and Mental Health; and Sensory and Physical would be used in a different way to Cognition and Learning because they would focus more specifically on an individual’s needs. The people we have spoken to have been excited about how we have already incorporated the four broad areas of need into our new evidence platform, Evisense. They have been impressed with how the pupil information can be showcased and how schools can easily demonstrate how they have been supporting pupil development across all four areas.
Currently we are planning
- the cessation of sale of our P Scale assessment frameworks to schools in England (This does not prevent customers from continuing to use the P Scale assessment frameworks),
- a new assessment framework for pupils engaged in subject-specific learning,
- a new assessment framework for pupils not yet engaged in subject-specific learning,
- a new structure for both of these assessment frameworks which is in line with current accountability measures,
- a broader content for both of these assessment frameworks which is in line with current SEND statutory guidance.
The section below explains how we are changing our assessment frameworks within Connecting Steps in response to the recommendations.
Proposed Changes to our SEND Assessment Frameworks in Response to the Recommendations of The Rochford Review: Final Report
The image below links to a document showing our proposed* changes to our SEND formative assessment frameworks based on the Rochford Review's recommendations on statutory assessment. It includes information on the structure, content and how the decisions have been made. The document can be downloaded by clicking here.
*The plans cannot be confirmed until The DfE responds to the "Rochford Review: Final Report" and confirms the direction of statutory assessment for pupils with SEND.
If you want to know more about how we will be meeting the challenge of the changes, then come and talk to us at one of the shows or conferences we are attending around the country or attend our SEND Roadshow. Once The DfE has responded to the Rochford Review and our plans are finalised we will go on an SEND Assessment Roadshow. We will tour the country inviting schools to:
- find out about how we are adapting our assessment frameworks,
- learn how they can use Evisense with Connecting Steps,
- refresh their Connecting Steps skills,
- discover and discuss best practice for SEND assessment,
- network with other schools using B Squared products
We will be inviting schools to host these events around the country. if you are interested in attending a roadshow, please contact us at email@example.com.