Earwig and AfL

A good assessment system really impresses the power ladder above you, from the head of department all the way up to the Ofsted inspector, as they can clearly see the progress of your pupils. 

But did you know that incorporating Assessment for Learning can also make you a better teacher too?


Assessment for Learning (AfL) or ‘formative assessment’ was seeded in 1998 following research by Black & Wiliam and was formed from projects by Kings College team.

Chris Harrison, a senior lecturer in science education at King’s College Londosays it focuses on supporting learning rather than judging achievement. He told The Guardian:


Schools in England have become data driven; teachers are heavily influenced by the need to produce summative performance data to assess school effectiveness, set targets and monitor standards. Most schools have amalgamated this into their regular monitoring systems with teachers being asked to report on achievement every few months. This approach to assessment amplifies the negative messages that low-attainers perceive about their lack of success compared to others in their class. This can lead to increased feelings of helplessness and further decreased motivation.”

Cambridge International Examinations says AFL involves students becoming more active in their learning and starting to ‘think like a teacher’. They think more actively about where they are now, where they are going and how to get there.


However, despite such compelling results from research into AfL, it is not found in every school. There are many reasons why teachers have found it difficult to incorporate AfL into the classroom but Harrison says “Perhaps the most fundamental one is that they cannot conceptualise AfL fully before they begin to develop it in their classrooms; they are unable to perceive the types of changes they need to make in their day-to-day practice”.


This is where Earwig comes in …

The UK Assessment Reform Group (1999) identifies ‘The big 5 principles of assessment for learning’

  1. The provision of effective feedback to students.
  2. The active involvement of students in their own learning.
  3. Adjusting teaching to take account of the results of assessment.
  4. Recognition of the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of pupils, both of which are critical influences on learning.
  5. The need for students to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve.


When schools use Earwig and the new Earwig assessment module, AfL is much easier to achieve. Students can be given feedback on their progress on their own timeline by their parents and teachers, they can be introduced to their own assessment level which has been tracked using Earwig and can even suggest to the teacher how their learning could be improved. Earwig assessment module clearly lays out the progess of the pupil whilst the timeline of achievement boosts esteem and helps the teacher illustrate effort, progress and achievement to the parents and pupil.

Harrison concludes: “Schools need to reflect on how their multiple uses of assessment affect the motivation and the self-esteem of their learners. The emphasis needs to be placed on helping all pupils develop and sustain a capacity to learn that not only lasts through the years of compulsory schooling but benefits them throughout their lives.”

So if you want to free up more time to spend “sitting beside” some of your lower achievers click here.


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