This blog aims to be a follow-up to the Northern History Forum meeting from November 2013. You will find links on the blog to all aspects of planning for progress and progression in the new KS3. I hope we are able to spark some healthy professional dialogue about the concepts we want to use to assess History; how we make progression models meaningful; and how we can create a mastery model of History education. All comments are much appreciated and help us to begin the process of moving History forwards. I hope we can be in the vanguard of educational reform as a subject as we move into 2014.
As ever, I am indebted to the huge amount of work which has already been done on these themes over the last 20 years, by a range of incredibly talented people. I have provided a full bibliography for all the models in the introductory file below. I would however like to mention the amazing articles from Peter Lee and Denis Shemilt in Teaching History, as well as Peter Seixas' and Tom Morton's "The Big Six" which first got me excited about the prospect of rethinking history assessment.
For each of these concepts it would be good to have a discussion about how far you agree with the signposts set out and the aims of the concepts. Student friendly versions are available in the student resources section.
Surely I cannot be the only one whose heart leapt when I read this statement in the DfE’s recent statement on assessment without National Curriculum Levels. In two short paragraphs, the document went on to describe everything that was wrong with the current system of assessment in Key Stages 1 to 3.
“We believe this system is complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents. It also encourages teachers to focus on a pupil’s current level, rather than consider more broadly what the pupil can actually do. Prescribing a single detailed approach to assessment does not fit with the curriculum freedoms we are giving schools.” (DfE, 2013)
I seldom sing the praises of the Secretary of State for Education, but this surely has to be one of the most sensible reforms we have seen for many years.
In the wake of the demise of the levels system, it seems the ideal time to begin to thinking about what should come next. How should we think about progress and progression in History in a post-Levels world?
It has long been accepted that the system of NC Levels is woefully inadequate when it comes to describing, assessing or planning for progression in History. Levels have become, in the worst cases, the end point of teaching itself. This has been accompanied by an increasing fetishisation of NC Levels as a means of establishing accountability in schools. Worryingly, the idea of NC Levels seems to have become so ingrained that many are unsure how we assess now these ‘ladders’ have been removed. I would suggest however that this is a moment where we need to seize the opportunity to build meaningful models of progression with both hands.