Assessing Progress at Oaklands
Our primary assessment tool is our own competency and skills-based system OPAL (Oaklands Progressive Assessment Ladders) which is ipsative and tracks each child’s own journey. Their starting point is taken 13 weeks after admission and across numerous skillsets within the eight OPAL ladders. This ensures it is very rigorous and gives a very rounded view of each child’s unique strengths & learning need profile. After this baseline a data snapshot is taken every 13 weeks, and from this progress can be measured and standardised. However much more important than this raw data is the depth of information about a learner we can collate through the 1500+ finely grained I can steps within the ladders. How well a child can show a skill is measurable in the OPAL APS sheets where A= can access or attend to skill being demonstrated or makes an attempt to do it; P= practicing with intent; S= child is fully engaged in using & developing that skill; fully collaborating if guided.
By having this APS element on the child’s tracking documents, we can measure both horizontal and vertical progress and so identify in a very detailed way what pupils can do and what support they need to progress. To ensure that assessment practice is every day, ongoing, purposeful, and informing planning & teaching, individual tracking is on paper and the shared responsibility of the whole class team. Assessment at home is also encouraged, supporting our partnership with parents and carers.
In addition to increase the bespoke nature of our curriculum provision, and based on OPAL steps, short interventions called Resilience Building Programmes (RBPs) can be planned for pupils with a particular short-term need, or to boost progress in a particular area. These will often be cross-curricular in nature, such as Sensory Processing, Peer interaction, Communication/Speech & Language related.
We created our own system of assessment OPAL based on good practice in similar schools and from consulting relevant educational research and guidance. We also acknowledge the Rochford Report recommendation that schools ‘adapt assessment arrangements to suit the needs of their pupils and curriculum’ for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. We have established through the ladders a very fine-grained approach to progress, as we believe this will best capture the full range of what our unique pupils can do. To create the 1500+ micro steps, we expanded on high quality assessment statements from a wide range of resources including the AET framework, the EYFS framework, and the new Pre-Key Stage Standards. Where children have exceeded OPAL steps, they will be assessed using national curriculum standards.
In addition to progress within the OPAL Ladders, which cover all the skills we believe all our pupils need for life, we will also offer opportunities for ‘soft‘assessments such as participation in environmental or sports events and participation in arts awards projects. We feel this is a very valuable element of our full curriculum offer, contributing to every child’s holistic and spiritual, moral, social & cultural development.