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Chalk and talk

Dylan hands out an impromptu lesson on the value of assessment. Phil Revell listens in

Ms Robson has joined the planning team as a management group observer.

"Don't mind me," she says. "I'm here to monitor, not interfere." Thirty seconds later she wants to know why the school assessment policy isn't on the agenda.

Some people enjoy assessment, but pray you never meet one at a party. Ms Robson never gets invited to parties and believes assessment is an essential pedagogical tool. This floors most of the people in the meeting, in at least one case because he can't pronounce pedagogical.

"We need to build assessment criteria into our planning at an early stage," says Ms Robson. This puzzles Ms Thompson, possibly the best teacher in the universe and someone who thinks we instead need to build excitement and discovery into our planning at an early stage.

Tentatively the team suggests assessment is important, but perhaps they ought to concentrate on learning outcomes - and decide how best to assess the work produced later.

"But how will we know if they've gained anything from the lesson?" asks Ms Robson.

The co-ordinator neatly sidesteps the coming row by raising the issue of a visit by a local drama group. Drama isn't Ms Robson's strong point and she falls silent, interrupting only once to ask if the actors have clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau.

A week later, the actors are loading their gear into a battered Transit van, helped by a collection of Year 10s including Kieran, Dylan, Leanne and Amber. The head glides past and does a double-take - these are children whose orbits rarely coincide. "Enjoy the drama session, Dylan?" he asks.

"Yeah, we didn't do no writing all afternoon," says Dylan. The head winces, but Dylan is in full flow. "We improvised. And they said I could go down and help at their workshops."

"And will you go?" asks the head.

"Oh yeah," says Dylan.

The head is joined by Ms Robson, who enquires what Dylan has been up to this time. "Some real learning," says the head. "He's discovered something he's good at."

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