Progress without levels; how SIMS can help
In September 2014, the Government removed the National Curriculum ‘Levels’ without introducing a replacement. Though this has led some to complain that the lack of standardisation makes it a bit more difficult to track progress, the Commission established to examine the change found it would reduce the amount of time teachers spent tracking progress towards ‘numerical targets’. What is clear, though, is that SIMS has a really important role to play in enabling teachers – more stretched than ever before – to chart a child’s development, particularly as they move between primary school years.
Ultimately, it seems that the removal of levels has been positive. Rather than focus on test scores, teachers are now able to develop a more nuanced, ‘pupil-centric’ approach to monitoring and advancing student progress. Of course, numeracy and literacy scores are still dutifully recorded, but the emphasis has shifted towards ensuring a deeper learning and understanding of the curriculum. Ultimately, children are no longer all on the same linear flight path, but are instead following bespoke routes established by teachers who know them best. And just as the assessment process adapted, so too has SIMS – the Next Gen platform being specifically tailored to enable as much info as possible to be tracked and analysed simply.
After all, faced with a vast Niagara of information, collecting data that can really spur forward a child’s development could pose a bit of an administrative challenge for teachers. Put another way, the more time once spent on admin that can be freed up for teachers means more time that can be invested into developing lessons; engaging directly with pupils; or maximising the learning of children that really need it most.
This last point is particularly important. After all, Covid-19 has arguably exacerbated the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers: those in the former group often lacking access to laptops or other devices that enable remote learning. And even those children that don’t come from disadvantaged homes have perhaps fallen behind after a disjointed two years.
How SIMS can help
This is precisely where SIMS Next Gen – which will benefit from £40m of investment over the next few years – can help. The platform will provide the most detailed information possible to support teachers with the smallest administrative overheads. Even as the latest progress data is being captured, the system will feedback to the teacher any changes in a pupil’s progress and also highlight any patterns or trends across groups of pupils that the teacher should be aware of. With minimal time-investment, maximum educational returns can be enjoyed.