Exploring assessment and ungraded inspections in education

As educators, we often grapple with the following question:

Are pupils able to set or adjust their own long-term goals, confidently understanding their own progress? (EQ399). 

This query lies at the heart of our monthly reflection at Evaluate-Ed.


In the context of national assessments and exams, let’s revisit the concepts of summative and formative assessment.

Summative Assessment: This evaluates overall performance against established benchmarks. Think of it as the final scorecard after a game—the outcome that reflects a student’s achievements over a set period.

Formative Assessment: Unlike summative assessment, formative assessment focuses on ongoing feedback and growth. It’s about understanding where students are and helping them progress and improve. Here, feedback matters!

Pupils thrive in environments when their confidence is built on high quality written or verbal feedback by teachers who understand their learner’s needs and expectations. Both summative and formative assessment help pupils to adjust their own long-term goals to ensure improvement over time.

But what about inspections? Specifically, ungraded inspections?
Let’s break it down: 


Ungraded Inspections: These inspections differ from their graded counterparts. Instead of assigning individual grades, ungraded inspections assess whether a school maintains its previous grade. It’s about continuity, rather than judgment.

Quality of Feedback: Kate Jones highlights an essential aspect: students often fixate on grades and scores. The same the is true for teachers and parents. Removing these can be challenging, as some people prefer comment-only feedback. However, we must strike a balance. High scores may please some people, but they might miss crucial areas for improvement. Conversely, low scores can demoralize people. The key lies in engaging all stakeholders with meaningful feedback.

Ofsted’s Role: The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) plays a crucial role in evaluating schools. Their inspections can be both summative and formative. While summative inspections assess overall performance against national standards, formative inspections support schools in adjusting their long-term goals. Recently, Ofsted announced that ungraded inspection reports won’t include specific grades but will address safeguarding effectiveness.

Continuing Success: Over the years, UK schools have seen positive outcomes. The majority—around 89%—are rated ‘Good’ or better. As we navigate education’s future, let’s consider how ungraded inspections align with our school long-term goals.

In summary, ungraded inspections offer a fresh perspective—one that emphasizes continuity and growth. Let us ensure our educational system remains effective and supportive.

John Croghan M.Ed. BA, Cert. Ed.

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