EFA improving student learning at Boston High School

Boston High School in Lincolnshire has enjoyed a successful first year undertaking the Embedding Formative Assessment EFA programme, at the end of which staff were asked to both review the impact individually, in their Teacher Learning Communities (TLC), and in their subject in departmental groups.

The feedback requested focused on these areas:

  • Formative assessment techniques that I am now consistently using
  • What I am using less of compared with last year
  • Changes in marking/feedback practice in their subject
  • Examples of good practice observed in peer feedback in their TLC group
  • How student learning has improved over the past year

“It has been a successful CPD programme that has inspired colleagues to share ideas, resources in a supportive, non-threatening coaching style. The system of having TLC Leads has brought intrinsic motivation to all of the leads, as recognised by our head awarding them all a TLR in recognition of their impact on students’ increased outcomes. Our EFA lead has had guidance at every turn, and is grateful for the experience and wisdom shown by the mentor, who has been especially integral to the success of the EFA programme. We are looking forward to the second year, and ahead to the future to make sure the EFA principles are embedded in our long-term vision.” Kathy Farley, Assistant Headteacher

How student learning has improved over the past year

Positive impact of EFA on student learning is at the very heart of the programme, there were many observations that were of particular interest.

Firstly, teachers felt confident to freely explore different formative assessment approaches with confidence and build upon those with which they felt most secure. The EFA programme focuses on habit change rather than knowledge acquisition. Teachers making small habit changes to their daily formative assessment practice leads to notable gains in student learning as shown by staff feedback below.

Instilling more key skills in approaches to learning has had positive results and staff have witnessed students taking more responsibility, confidently leading their own learning and readily identifying knowledge gaps. Greater resilience and independence are evident, with students more willing to have a go and take risks rather than saying “I cannot do …”. They are taking more ownership of the success criteria and matching their progress against it.

Greater time for higher quality reflection was also identified as another benefit from the programme. There were now more opportunities in lessons for self-reflection on their performance, together with more varied (often fun) activities for recall techniques, more retention and retrieval, more awareness of knowledge gaps and a more frequent capturing of learning progress and identification of ways forward. Students can make links between different topics with greater ease, can explain processes and procedures with more consistent use of key terms and are seen to concentrate better.

“The school have shown exceptional commitment to ensuring that this programme is implemented with fidelity and that it is kept as a high priority throughout the school.” Lizzy Francis, SSAT EFA Mentor

Overall, the staff have been very responsive to changing their practice and students have responded in kind by supporting themselves and each other effectively and in a much more positive and active way than before.

Find out more about Embedding Formative Assessment

A two-year professional development programme for all schools and colleges that has been independently proven to increase student achievement.

Find out more

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