The Education Insider: Nothing to see here! It’s all exactly the same…kind of

In her twelfth post for us, education expert Jodie Lopez discusses the recent STA clarification video – and whether it really clarifies anything at all…

Shortly after I wrote my last blog, the STA released a video on their YouTube channel which is aimed at giving more clarification around the ‘misconceptions’ arising from some of the statements within the Interim Teacher Assessment Framework for Key Stage 2 writing. (I would like to imply here that my blog has prompted this clarification but I stand on the shoulders of giants who have paved the way and so must meekly admit I don’t think my influence reaches that far!)

Kathryn Liles-Taylor, Senior Teacher Assessment and Maladministration Manager, explains various points in the video, but I will highlight a few key points here with my comments.

Firstly, Kathryn tackles the Pupil Can statement for Working at Greater Depth:

• managing shifts between levels of formality through selecting vocabulary precisely and by manipulating grammatical structures

This is one of the statements which schools have found it hard to assess on, not least because it is similar to a statement in the Working at the Expected Standard section. Kathryn clarifies this statement, however, by urging us to look at the exemplar writing material and also explaining that to show ‘managing shifts’, the ‘shifts must be managed and not random.’ Oh, OK. That clears that up then. Ahem. Moving on. (Am I the only one who doesn’t feel clarity is reigning yet?)

She also states that the evidence must be within single pieces of writing, more than one piece of writing and more than once within a piece of writing.

At a number of points in the video, Kathryn points out that NONE of the Pupil Can statements have changed for this year and they haven’t, according to the documentation. However, these next pieces of clarification may affect what teachers’ interpretations of them are.

One statement for Working at the Expected Standard mentions the use of semi colons and colons:

• using inverted commas, commas for clarity, and punctuation for parenthesis mostly correctly, and making some correct use of semi-colons, dashes, colons and hyphens

Many teachers will have been looking out for these as part of quite high level writing but Kathryn explains that pupils need not use semi colons or colons to mark the boundary between independent clauses but may perhaps use colons to introduce lists and semi colons within a list. Although this apparently does not change the statement itself, I have no doubt that this might change how some teachers assessed their pupils last summer. It may even have affected some lesson plans as teachers tried to get semi colons and colons into places they need not have been?!

We also discover that although bullet points are not a required element of writing at the expected standard, if they are used they have to be consistently punctuated. So if they have upper case letters or lower case letters to start each bullet point there must be consistency – all upper case or all lower case. You can use full stops to end each bullet point or not, so long as you are consistent. Or just don’t put bullet points in at all? This may also affect some lesson plans.

Another punctuation surprise comes as a response to clarification around this Pupil Can statement for Working at Greater Depth:

• using the full range of punctuation taught at key stage 2, including colons and semi-colons to mark the boundary between independent clauses, mostly correctly.

Apparently an ellipsis does not count as part of the “full range of punctuation” as it is a cohesive device, even though it is part of punctuation groupings elsewhere. OK then. Again this may be in response to some debates during moderation. I find this one slightly odd as essentially the STA has now removed the ellipsis from the punctuation category (only for Year 6?) but I cannot say I will entirely miss this one being shoehorned in by children who aren’t quite sure how to use it properly yet. I have read many an ‘exciting’ story with an ellipsis breaking up every sentence for dramatic effect.

So I hope that has…cleared things up. Do watch the video also for clarification of…success criteria.

Jodie is an award winning ex-primary teacher who now works as a Freelance Edtech Consultant. Her interest in using technology in education has led to her working with a number of educational technology businesses since leaving the classroom. Most recently she has been Head of Education for an assessment system provider and has specialised in helping schools to transition to the new curriculum and leaving levels behind. Follow her on Twitter here.

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