Hartland International School, Dubai: Getting to the heart of assessment with Principal, Fiona Cottam

titive private school market, Fiona Cottam, Principal of Hartland School explains how the school’s robust assessment system has been crucial in their development and growth.

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Established in 2015, Hartland School Dubai is a leading British international school with a unique blend of traditional values and an innovative approach to education. Located in Dubai’s highly competitive private school market, Fiona Cottam, Principal of Hartland School explains how the school’s robust assessment system has been crucial in their development and growth.

“Initially, the approach to student assessment was quite basic. There was a lack of understanding in the tracking system that had initially been purchased for the school and teachers were not as comfortable with its use as they ought to be. For a variety of reasons, they found it cumbersome and leaders were not making effective use of the data to drive the school forward. Teachers reverted to using safe and tried methods of Excel spreadsheets, and central data analysis and collation were not robust enough as a result. It became increasingly difficult to gain real insight from the data. The complexities of sharing data among colleagues became time consuming.”

We needed a robust assessment system linked to student’ achievement and progress
“After recognising the issues, the school began looking for the best and most accurate way to track progress. My main aim was to move staff away from manual Excel spreadsheets (as well as paper-based files!) and implement a solution that was beneficial across the whole school, for the leadership team, teachers, governors, students, and parents.”

“We looked at a variety of systems currently on the market and our final choice was to purchase and use Classroom Monitor. Our research and testing led us to believe that this was the best system to support our teachers and we have not looked back since its implementation. Staff find the system easy to use and enables them to have real time information on the attainment and progress of the individual students on a big picture level, but also on a very detailed micro level. In addition, the support that my school leaders receive from the Classroom Monitor team, both by email and in person in training is highly effective. This enables us to analyse and use the system in the most productive way possible for the benefit of student learning and indeed, we would be more than happy to share our experience with any school who is also reviewing their systems.”

Triangulating our thinking and our evidence
“Having found the right solution for the school means that now, our leadership team has instant access to ready-made data reports, allowing us to better triangulate our thinking and our evidence. This information directly informs and accelerates the school improvement plan. We view results and analyse data quickly, comparing across our broad range of subject areas, which allows early identification of issues and more responsive intervention where needed.”

“We are also able to build on the areas of strengths that we see in our day-to-day teaching. The better use of data has enabled more robust discussions amongst teachers and leaders and has also changed the conversation that we have with children and parents. It has empowered a review of the working curriculum and has informed us of the journey that we need to take.”

“Providing a fast way to record assessment and evidence dramatically reduced teachers’ workload, allowing more time to be spent informing the next steps of learning. Instead of recording assessment at the end of lessons, teachers use iPads to record as it happens with photos, videos and notes as evidence; freeing the staff from hours of managing assessment data. Schools need a quick and easy, but reliable way to see how each student is performing; day-today, and term-to-term. We now show progress against learning goals, at-a-glance attainment spread across the class, and students are often involved in self and peer-assessment. One of the main benefits of using data in this way is that students themselves have a better understanding of their abilities and thereby have higher expectations and aspirations for their own learning and this has shaped a modification to our curriculum as we build on the promotion of problem solving, inquiry-led learning, and critical thinking skills.”

Meeting the rigorous expectations of parents, governors and external inspection teams
“By having an assessment system in place that we have all agreed on, we are also better informed and prepared to meet the rigorous expectations of parents, governors and indeed, external inspection teams. In January of 2018 we were rated ‘Good’ in our first KHDA inspection, an outcome that was supported by our ability to demonstrate explicitly how we collate and use data to inform our planning and outcomes.”

“Following close analysis of the 2017 results, we have made extraordinary leaps in the achievement and progress of our students in the 2018 results which were shared with parents and students at the end of the summer term. Once again, Classroom Monitor was crucial in the close monitoring of our student level, class level and school level targets and its implementation has undoubtedly supported the journey that we are on.”

If you would like to see how Classroom Monitor can support your school to success, you can book your demonstration using the button below.

Read the full article published in Teach Middle East Magazine Sept-Oct 2018

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