I should start by saying that the only vested interest I have in Learning Ladders is in my role as Assessment Leader at my school and chair of a growing assessment working group in Lewisham made up of a number of schools who all use Learning Ladders. I want Learning Ladders to grow for one reason: because it works for learners and teachers. As anyone who has ever read one of my blogs before will know – I have little time for leaders who chase teachers for data, but I have plenty of time for leaders who support teachers to help children learn as effectively as possible. It goes without saying then, that no system will work well if school leaders and their teachers have the wrong principles about assessment and data. No doubt those who do have sound principles know that data and assessment are different and have very different purposes, yet at the same time they have a relationship that matters to schools a great deal. It’s getting that relationship right that school leaders need to work on, but I’ve written about that and so have many others ..and better. Here, my purpose is to wave a flag for what I feel is good for learners and schools. Still so many leaders are struggling to find the right path for their schools, well, here’s a good one.
Having implemented Learning Ladders across our school two years ago, and also having supported other schools in the borough to do the same, and importantly as a working classroom teacher, I know that Learning Ladders works for teachers first and this has made an incredible difference in shaping our assessment practice. There’s also plenty of other reasons I like Learning Ladders – they aren’t a huge corporate entity, but instead a social enterprise made up of individuals who have developed the system and are passionate about learning and supporting schools. This listening to schools and building the system around their needs has meant that essentially Learning Ladders is a system developed by teachers, for teachers. I’m proud to say that a few of these developments have come about through our own assessment working group feeding back to Learning Ladders and the team listening carefully and acting on our suggestions.
What I’ve tried to do here is think about the questions teachers asks themselves sat in their classrooms day in and day out. I’ve linked these thoughts to what the Learning Ladders system brings to teachers as answers. One of the biggest issues for teachers is time, time to do anything well, and so this has also been a huge consideration in trying to make the system work well for teachers. Mind sets have had to shift from a time when assessment meant dragging a test paper out of the cupboard to understanding assessment as pedagogy, as a way to shape learners. Changing this understanding takes time, but when something is right, it is right. Teachers have started to feel the change in their practice for themselves, but what I say over and over again (and what I will never stop saying) is that no system will ever compensate for a lack of understanding about assessment, and what it should do for learners. However, Learning Ladders at least offers the framework for excellent assessment practice to unfold.This is how Learning Ladders works: (the planning tool is under development for next year).
Find out more at https://www.learningladders.info/