Worth repeating for the record

Diane Hofkins

Teachers gather masses of information about their pupils, but how do they decide what to pass on to the next year or school? Researchers on the National Assessment in Primary Schools project at the University of London's Institute of Education asked 26 Year 3 teachers what information they received from infant schools or teachers, and what they found most useful.

The clearest finding is that teachers value information on reading above all else. The specific information most Year 3 teachers wanted was reading age, but in fact this was passed on by fewer than half the teachers.

Results of national tests were passed on in 22 out of 26 cases, although Year 3 teachers found teacher assessment results (received by 17) to be slightly more useful.

The most common combinations of information transferred were: tests, narrative records such as those given in reports to parents, tick lists showing children's national curriculum levels in a range of subjects, teacher assessment results and samples of work. When teachers consulted this information, they used it mostly for grouping children and assessing the capabilities of individuals, particularly if there was a cause for concern, say researchers Bet McCallum and Brenda Taggart.

However, information was seldom consulted for planning purposes. This was apparently because Year 3 teachers did not look at the records until the autumn, having done much of their planning before the start of term.

The researchers were "surprised" that not all teachers passed on reports written for parents to their Year 3 colleagues, given that narrative records to parents are a statutory requirement which add detail to children's individual records.

When pupils move on to Year 4, the Year 3 teachers passed along the type of information they had found useful themselves. Samples of work were helpful, but only when accompanied by a fair degree of contextual information.

"They also passed on tick lists despite not finding them useful, which may be explained by school policy dictat. Despite being a statutory requirement to parents, narrative records were not always passed on between Year 3 and Year 4 colleagues.

"Only a minority of teachers passed on national test and teacher assessment information," say the researchers.

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