Different Language, Different Focus, Same Principles, by Shaw Goodwin

Yesterday I sat in the school hall watching my infants taking part in a Yoga lesson.  I watched two boys, who show strong autistic traits, unrolling their yoga mats and having real concerns that the mats would not lie flat; they continued to curl upwards.  For the rest of the class this was not an issue, but for these boys, it was a real problem.

School Assessment
Shaw Goodwin, Head Teacher at St Christopher’s School

Whilst I might not have predicted their exact reactions, their behaviour did not come as a surprise to me.  School staff are always watching and assessing how their children react to different stimuli.  Often the children’s responses are what we expect, particularly if we know the children well, but hopefully, as yesterday, we observe and learn something new.  One of the children pondered the problem and decided to flip over the mat.  Good problem solving young man! Maybe not earth shattering to many, but it clearly showed to me that the child had made significant progress in how he reacted and dealt with that challenge.


Despite all the recent changes to school curricula and methods of recording and reporting children’s achievement, the core skills of assessing where a child is in order to plot their next step of learning, has not changed. It remains that same focused ability to observe how a child reacts to learning opportunities.  So when asked to talk on the topic of Implementing Effective Assessment at a regional conference, I did question what I could share that fellow professionals might find useful.


However, when reflecting on how we have implemented the ‘new’ curriculum and introduced a new tracking system, there have been some significant changes in how and what, we use the assessments for.

  • Significantly more focus and granularity in recording what each child “can do” against each objective.
  • The ability for Leaders in Learning to analyse and recognise strengths and weaknesses in the year group, class and school learning, has increased.
  • Identifying what each child’s learning gaps are.
  • Using summative assessments to support formative assessment.
  • Gone has the end of term ‘assessment of attainment’ – that process Is now system driven.


You won’t be surprised to hear that we don’t yet have a documented curriculum or set of objectives for yoga, but if we did he would now be working at 2 developing+, having made 1.5 steps of learning and a target for lying still for more than 15 seconds J.   He contributed positively to the Year group, SEN group and Boys Group outcomes, but this now gives me the headache that the Pupil Premium group has not made as much progress –  had I better start thinking of what intervention I need to put in place?

On a more serious note, I’m looking forward to sharing how we have approached all these changes and challenges; developing and moving our practice forward.  I’m also hopeful of finding some answers, from others, to areas we are still working on.

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