Steve Mills, Headteacher at Whitehill Junior School, a primary school in Hertfordshire, completed the Assessment Lead Programme with his colleague Anna in 2018. We spoke with Steve to find out why he chose to enrol on the Assessment Lead Programme.
Why did you decide to focus on assessment at Whitehill Junior School?
“As a school we are always interested in the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’, and we were becoming increasingly more concerned with the way local ‘advisers’ and ‘experts’ were trying to over-complicate assessment in primary schools, following the removal of levels. So much so, that our local advisers practically reinvented levels but successfully managed to make them even more complicated! They gave schools a ‘what’ you need to do.”
Why did you choose to do the Assessment Lead Programme?
“Feeling this [above] needed to be challenged, we were introduced to Stuart Kime. Everything Stuart said during a face to face meeting about assessment totally resonated with what we feel the process should be about.”
“It drew together significant research and presented a process and way of working which highlighted the need to understand ‘why’ we need to assess.”
“Having left this meeting it was clear my deputy head and I needed to sign up to the ALP programme so that we could add to our ‘gut feeling’ theory which would give us permission to continue with our beliefs.”
From a primary school’s perspective, how have you benefitted from the Assessment Lead Programme?
“All schools assess. Regardless of what we think about SATs, assessment is a tool which we need to get right and use in order to ensure pupils are learning. Even if SATs were abolished at KS2, we would still assess regularly. The ALP gives leaders the permissions and understanding to develop assessment across the school to make it a beneficial and not a high stakes tool.”
“Since completing the year’s work, it is incredible how many conversations we have had in a whole host of circumstances where Anna and I look at each other and give that knowing look which relates to something we covered whilst studying together.”
“To sum up, the ALP is some of the best CPD I have done in the 25+ years I have been a teacher.”
Steve Mills is one of 700 education professionals who have enrolled on the Assessment Lead Programme since its launch in 2017. For more information on the next cohort and to book your place, click here!