Writing Moderation

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By Jo Gray
on 06 November, 2016

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Key Dates for Writing Moderation

The recent publication of the ‘Teacher Assessment Moderation: Requirements for Key Stage One and the 'Teacher Assessment Moderation: Requirements for Key Stage Two' illustrates that the moderation process will be extremely similar to last year; not much has changed. This may be met with relief by many teachers who do not now need to stretch their minds around yet another new system or who may despair that similar procedures are still in place. Whichever stance you take, if you are responsible for teacher assessment of writing in KS1 or KS2 in a school, you must act in accordance with with the moderation guidance released by the Standards and Testing Agency on 31st October 2016. This guidance should be used alongside either the KS1 assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA) or KS2 assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA).

Key dates for writing moderation

Schools will be informed by their LA on, or after, 19th May 2017 if they will be moderated. Academies must confirm their choice of LA to the STA during the autumn term as they are subject to writing moderation following the same process. Moderation will take place between Monday 5 and Thursday 29 June 2017. KS2 TA data must be submitted via the ‘Teacher Assessment’ section of NCA tools by 29 June 2017. KS1 TA data must be submitted to the LA by Thursday 29 June 2017 and from the LA to the DfE by Friday 28 July 2017.

Expectations of moderated schools

The best way for schools and academies to prepare for an external moderation visit is to have a consistent, strong internal moderation procedure which occurs regardless of whether or not schools are to be externally moderated. Before an external moderation visit, schools will need to ensure judgements against the interim framework are available for external moderators and ensure that work has been internally moderated prior to an LA external moderation visit. The children’s work used for moderation should be their day-to-day work; there is no expectation that schools will produce a portfolio of evidence especially for moderation.

Class teachers will need to be available on the day of an external moderation so that the moderator can engage in a professional dialogue for part, or all of the process. The amount of time that teachers are involved in the process for is at the discretion of the LA. The headteacher, or a representative, should also be available in order to discuss findings with the moderator afterwards. LA moderators all have recent and relevant experience, and, by definition, are likely to visit several schools so they can often use the time to offer constructive feedback that can help a school to improve further and also praise the school in discussions around what the school is doing well.

Independence of a child’s work

With a new assessment framework and moderation process last year, one of the most difficult parts of the process for teachers was distinguishing what was classed as independent writing. This year the STA has released further guidelines.

These are summarised below:

  • Writing can emerge from a quality text, topic, visit, or curriculum experience, in which pupils have had a range of opportunities to explore and discuss what is to be written about
  • Teachers can enable pupils to apply their learning independently, possibly with an element of choice, for example writing from the perspective of a chosen character
  • Writing can be independently edited and / or redrafted by the pupil. This may be in response to self, peer, or group evaluation
  • Writing can be produced by pupils who have independently drawn on classroom resources such as dictionaries, thesauruses, word banks, classroom displays, books or websites for support or ideas
  • Writing is informed by clear learning objectives and limited success criteria which are not over detailed and do not over-aid pupils.

The moderation document also explains that the children’s work for moderation cannot have been modelled or heavily scaffolded, nor can it be copied or paraphrased. The STA advise that writing should not be supported by a success criteria that is over-detailed and over-aids pupils, nor can they be edited as a result of direct intervention by a teacher or other adult. Writing produced with the support of electronic aids that automatically provide correct spelling, synonyms, punctuation, or predictive text is also not independent. However, the guidance does suggest some writing can be word processed if the spelling and grammar check functions are disabled.

Spelling and handwriting

The biggest controversy with the interim framework last year was in relation to the ‘pupil can’ statements about handwriting and spelling. The interim frameworks are very similar this year but the writing moderation guidance does explain that writing evidence does not need to include every word from the word lists within the National Curriculum. However, when the listed words are used, some, or most, must be spelt correctly in line with the interim TA framework ‘pupil can’ statements.

As was confirmed late on in the process last year, children do not need to achieve the statements relating to handwriting if being awarded ‘working towards the expected standard’ or ‘working at the expected standard’, but to achieve ‘working at greater depth within the expected standard’ then all handwriting statements must be achieved.

As last year, pupils who have a physical disability that prevents them from being able to write as part of day-to-day classroom practice are exempt from having to meet the statements for handwriting for the ‘working towards the expected standard’ and ‘working at the expected standard.’ This year the guidance also states they are exempt from the handwriting statements for ‘working at greater depth within the expected standard’.

Further information

The most important element to remember about writing assessment is that the children are developing skills that they can continue to use after the writing moderation process has ended. Teachers who ensure that they have a robust, internal moderation system in school, work alongside other schools and, ensure that the writing opportunities for children are engaging, exciting and varied, will have a clear understanding of how well their children are doing and may be more confident if their school is moderated.

One Education offer a range of courses throughout the year, including writing moderation sessions which are facilitated by our Literacy Team Leader Jo Gray, who is an experienced writing moderator for Manchester. For information about organising your own writing moderation session, contact Jo Gray on 0844 967 1111.

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