Diary of an NQT: A focus on assessment

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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The end of the second assessment cycle for our NQT diarist allows him to take stock and reflect on the progress of both his students and his teaching

I have reached the end of my second assessment cycle, which means that my students are taking tests in all subjects. This can be a fraught time for the students as they may be sitting more than one assessment a day. It is important to remember how much pressure this adds.

It is a busy time for teachers too. The assessments need to be marked as quickly as possible after they have been completed. The fact that this half-term is only five weeks long adds an additional pressure, making it one of the most hectic times of the academic year.

In a previous diary entry, I wrote about the changes made to my timetable due to a colleague’s illness. I am now settled into my new routine, but I have only taught some of my new classes a few times, especially those that I share with other teachers.

I see my year 7 history class once a fortnight and have taught them just four times. I will be responsible for setting and marking their upcoming assessment, which will focus on medieval castles and governance in Norman England. Despite our short time together, I am pleased with their work and they are engaged in class. I anticipate that they will do well in the assessment.

I no longer teach year 8 history, although I do have two English classes in that year. They have been reading the novel Once by Morris Gleitzman, which they have enjoyed immensely, and their assessment will focus on narrative writing.

Both of my year 8 English classes are set 5 and some of the students have complex additional needs. However, both of the classes have worked really hard and I hope their assessment results reflect their endeavour.

My year 9 history students have been studying the First World War. They are a wonderful class who I love teaching; almost all of the students are taking history next year and so they are very engaged in the subject. They sat their assessments the other day and they are of a high quality. I have only a couple of days to get them marked, as I will have other assessments to work through by the end of the week.

My GCSE classes will be sitting mock exams for the topic they have just completed studying. For my year 10s, this will be on American equality and opportunity.

One of my year 10 classes had a difficult start to the year due to disruptive behaviour. I have written in this column about these challenges previously and I am now pleased to report that the problems seem to have been resolved. I hope this minor period of disruption does not have a negative impact upon their assessment results as this would be unfair on the students who have behaved impeccably.

My year 11 students are under the most pressure as their final exams are just around the corner. Their mock will focus on the history of medicine, an enjoyable but challenging area of study; it is a very wide-ranging topic and features a vast amount of historical knowledge that students are required to have. They are a hard-working and engaged group, and I am confident that they will be well prepared to tackle the mock.

Students should appreciate the importance of assessments, but without putting undue pressure upon themselves. The fact is, their results reflect not only their work, but mine. If a student under-performs, I will examine my own practice to work out why.

It may be a chaotic time, but assessment cycles allow teachers and students to identify their areas of strength and weakness. Through honest reflection, true progress can be achieved.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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