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Primary school pilot project looking to go beyond national curriculum with support from NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund

Primary school pilot project looking to go beyond national curriculum with support from NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund

A new approach to assessing 10- and 11-year-olds is offering primary schools the chance to go beyond what the national curriculum and SATs currently value and celebrate the unique strengths of all pupils.

The Primary Extended Project Award (PEPA), developed by The Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) and multi-academy trust Big Education, will give pupils the chance to be more creative and take control of their own learning.

Created with support from NCFE through its Assessment Innovation Fund, the PEPA aims to address specific problems in the ways primary pupils are currently assessed.

It will challenge both the overemphasis on summative assessment that’s linked to school performance measures, and the strong focus on literacy and numeracy that can often reduce pupils’ chances to develop wider skills.

Reflecting on the design of the PEPA, Joe Hallgarten, CEO at The Centre for Education and Youth, said:

“CfEY has been delighted to work with a group of schools who wish to take a creative, proactive approach to designing an assessment that can complement SATs.  

“We are now confident that we can find the investment and participation to pilot the PEPA, understand its impact, and create a model that any school in the UK and possibly the world, can take on.” 

Children in Years 5 and 6 will carry out an extended project that addresses a real-world challenge of their choice, presenting their work to the local community through a range of media. The PEPA also offers the opportunity for schools to collaborate outside of the classroom, enabling pupils to benefit from connections with other schools as well as their wider communities.

The PEPA is designed to complement existing primary school assessments, with its programme of delivery embedded throughout Years 5 and 6. The assessment of the PEPA will be largely formative and develop a shared language for pupils, teachers, and parents around the skills of research, presentation, imagination, inquisitiveness, and persistence.

Pupils will gather evidence and reflect on their learning throughout via an online Project Record, as well as receiving and recording meaningful, formative feedback from a wide variety of people. Assessment will be carried out by the class teacher with assistance from pupils, expert mentors, and parents, and will be supported by moderation and professional development activities.

The development of the PEPA has been supported by a grant from NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund – helping organisations with new approaches to assessment and exploring innovative uses of technology across a range of pilots developed by, but not limited to, training providers, qualification developers, awarding bodies, quality assurers, EdTech companies, and colleges.

Gray Mytton, Assessment Innovation Manager at NCFE, said:

“It has been fantastic to see the PEPA develop from a conceptual idea that aimed to support the widening of the primary curriculum, into a real and tangible programme of learning and assessment. The team at CfEY has delivered on their application to the Assessment Innovation Fund, and I have every confidence that they will continue to refine the PEPA through the prototyping and testing phase needed to secure the sector’s buy-in for wide-scale adoption.”

This new assessment has been designed in partnership with a group of primary teachers and leaders from across England and Wales. Across two face-to-face workshops, participants discussed possible approaches, gathered feedback from colleagues and pupils, and overcame operational issues related to delivery.

One participant in the workshops commented: “There was a clear structure to the day, it was very practical and engaging with focused tasks and desired outcomes to work towards.” Another explained that it has been useful to explore how the PEPA would look for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

CfEY and Big Education are now looking to prototype elements of the PEPA programme with a small number of year six pupils ahead of a large-scale impact pilot. You can discover more about the pilot project and read the final report here.

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