Three years ago, the idea that there could be a small set of non-negotiable statements about written outcomes, which summarise wider intentions from the 2014 national curriculum, and that assessments would be made against these, was a novel one. In 2018, we are used to this. We had interim Teacher Assessment Frameworks (TAFs). We now have the (to my mind, much-improved) TAFs, which have a ‘greater emphasis on composition, while statements relating to the more ‘technical’ aspects of English writing (grammar, punctuation and spelling) are less prescriptive.’ (2018 assessment guidance)
I quite like them. What we’re seeing in schools is that teachers, especially with the new acknowledgement of professional judgement from the STA, mostly like them too. In the main, they find them easy-ish to work with. Some have even been direct enough to say they’ve cut workload. I realise this may not be your experience, but it’s been ours at Herts for Learning.
So, we thought – ‘perhaps TAFs for all year groups would be helpful…’
Getting these ready has been a lengthy – but hugely interesting – and absorbing process. We needed to unpick the statements in the statutory Teacher Assessment Frameworks and explore how they derived from national curriculum expectations so that we could mirror this with statements yet to be created for other year groups.
We needed to strand between the statements for the ‘working at the expected standard’ TAFs for Years 2 and 6, in order to ensure that progression balanced with year group expectations.
We needed to make sure that areas with greater weighting at Year 2, such as spelling, moved appropriately towards expectations at Year 6 and, conversely, the areas with greater weighting at Year 6, such as composition, had been built towards across KS2.
We needed to write those statements, and then re-write, double-check, re-write and check again multiple times. I’m aware of exposing my inner nerdiness, but it has been fun. We then considered WTS and GDS for Years 1, 3, 4 and 5.
Again, we wanted to show correlation with the TAFs for Years 2 and 6, so, as with the EXS statements, qualifiers such as ‘some’ or ‘many’ carry the same meanings as they do in the STA documents.
It was important to think of ways that attainment at GDS would be shown within the standards for that year group, without needing to delve into expectations of the next one.
Just as with the Year 2 and Year 6 TAFs, secure subject knowledge of the curriculum will be essential if they are to be used effectively. After all, without that knowledge, statements such as ‘write about real events, recording these simply and clearly’ (Standards and Testing Agency TAF Year 2) tell us nothing about ‘how well’ or ‘in what ways’ children need to be writing. For that, we need the curriculum, and we need to know it well.
To this end, and although they’re not ready yet, there will be ‘Planning Platforms’ for each year group that unpick our national curriculum and offer exemplification examples of what specific teaching expectations might look like. You’ll have to wait a bit longer (but not too long) for those…
In the meantime, if you don’t subscribe to PA Plus, why not check out our online shop so that you can consider whether the HfL TAF might be right for you and your school? Feedback from schools who have trialled it has been overwhelmingly positive!
The HfL writing Teacher Assessment Frameworks are also now available for purchase.