Many schools across the country will be expecting moderation this year, so what can school leaders do to ensure staff are adequately supported to successfully navigate the experience?
It’s important to remember that whilst standardisation events run by LEAs or MATs in the lead up to a moderation period should result in teachers strengthening their assessment knowledge, the moderation process itself isn’t a CPD exercise – all of the learning should have been done beforehand.
The purpose of a moderation visit is to confirm that teacher assessments for the end of KS1 and KS2 are correct. Moderators aren’t there to offer advice or coaching, but to assess the accuracy of teachers’ judgements against published standards. Ensuring that teachers are secure in their judgements, and know where to find the evidence that supports them before the day, is key.
On the day, the focus will be on the teacher presenting the evidence to show how they know their judgements are accurate. They’ll be expected to refer to the child’s work alongside the assessment framework, so your Y2 and Y6 teachers are will need to have had adequate time to make accurate judgments – though really, this should be done as a matter of course, not just during a moderation year.
When looking at work and judgements, moderators will be looking for evidence of consistent demonstration of attainment towards the standards. This doesn’t mean that a child has to be 100% accurate, but there should be clear evidence that the teacher can justify their judgement of the standard being met against the body of work presented. There’s no ‘magic number’ in terms of how many times a child must demonstrate a standard; moderators will be looking at whether they can do so independently and confidently, and how the teacher knows this.
It’s a good idea for teachers to be given the opportunity to moderate with other teachers, perhaps across year groups in larger schools, at standardisation events, in cluster moderations, or all three. Make sure any such events are run properly, and don’t dissolve into aimless flipping through books and polite smiles. They should give teachers a dry run at articulating their judgments, presenting the evidence and responding to challenge if evidence is lacking.
Since the emphasis of a moderation visit is the validity of the teacher judgment and the professional dialogue surrounding it, there’s no need for teachers to stay up late the night before, furiously Post-it-noting evidence. Rather, it’s best practice to ensure that over the course of the assessment period, teachers are given adequate time to ensure all of their judgements are accurate, clearly evidenced and that they know where to look for evidence in key pieces of work across the portfolio.
Approached in this way – using assessment frameworks, exemplification materials and supporting documents – moderation should be a relatively pain-free experience that builds teachers’ confidence in their knowledge of the standards.
Lucy Starbuck Braidley is a primary school teacher and subject leader for English and PE