In short, the answer is no!
We understand there have been some mixed messages received by schools about Taith360, specifically that it is the “new Incerts” and just a “tick-box exercise” that is not fit for the new curriculum. This is completely untrue and not the aim of this purpose-built system. As has always been the case, any assessments you make should be used formatively to help inform planning and teaching, and Taith360 has been specially designed to help you in this endeavour.
Why Taith360 is not just Incerts 2.0
When the documentation for the new Curriculum for Wales was released in January 2020, we at Assessment360 took a long time examining the requirements and guidance. We quickly came to the realisation and conclusion that Incerts, or a variation of it, would no longer be fit for purpose and understood the need for a change in direction and approach.
With the removal of outcomes and levels, best-fit assessment, and yearly expectations, etc., the focus shifted to more formative assessment, a way to identify strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work by providing next steps – a significant sway in the perception of assessment within education. This was backed up in the guidance provided:
“Assessment should not be used to make a one-off judgement on the overall achievement of a learner at a set age or point in time against descriptors or criteria on a best-fit basis.” (https://hwb.gov.wales/curriculum-for-wales/assessment-arrangements/supporting-learner-progression-assessment-guidance/)
We therefore started a process involving a focus group of schools from across Wales, both primary and secondary settings, and both Incerts and non-Incerts users. Like with the curriculum, we wanted the system to be designed with school leaders/teachers input as they would be the ones using it.
The result of this development is Taith360 – built from the ground up for the new curriculum, it is not simply the ‘new Incerts’.
Progress and assessment using Taith360
Two of the key elements of the new curriculum are progression and assessment:
“Learner progression along a continuum of learning from ages 3 to 16 is central to Curriculum for Wales. Assessment plays a fundamental role in enabling each individual learner to make progress” (https://hwb.gov.wales/curriculum-for-wales/assessment-arrangements/supporting-learner-progression-assessment-guidance)
It is important to see where the children are in order to further develop their learning, and to plan activities and tasks that will help them further progress in their learning across progression steps. Assessments made on Taith360 can help you to keep track of each learner’s progress, and by assessing and planning on Taith360 you can help aid a pupil’s progress.
As you will know, the mandatory statements of what matters form the basis of learners’ progression. Supporting these are the descriptions of learning (which describe how learners should make progress within each statement of what matters):
“Descriptions of learning provide guidance on how learners should progress within each statement of what matters as they journey through the continuum of learning.”
“The descriptions of learning have been designed to help practitioners understand what learners’ progress should look like and provide reference points on the pace of progression to inform curriculum design and learning and teaching.”
As you can imagine, we try to keep on top of as much information regarding the new curriculum as possible, which is why we frequently look at the Curriculum for Wales blog. Here, they have a couple of posts that address several myths and misinterpretations that have emerged since the new Curriculum was released.
In the second of these posts The Curriculum for Wales – Dispelling the Myths – Part 2, it talks about the descriptions of learning:
“Myth #7 The Achievement Outcomes are our new levels.
Achievement outcomes are different to levels. They represent the essential learning that needs to be taking place at these reference points, and should not be used as tick boxes or as a ‘best fit’ model. They should be the basis for curriculum planning and building an accurate picture of how learners are progressing across AOLEs and towards the four purposes. Achievement Outcomes are descriptions of learning, their focus should be formative, identifying where learners need support and what they should do next. Practitioners should continuously refer back to achievement outcomes in their curriculum and assessment planning.” (https://curriculumforwales.gov.wales/2019/09/26/the-curriculum-for-wales-dispelling-the-myths-part-2/)
The key to this is the last couple of sentences:
“…Achievement Outcomes are descriptions of learning, their focus should be formative, identifying where learners need support and what they should do next. Practitioners should continuously refer back to achievement outcomes in their curriculum and assessment planning.”
The descriptions of learning have been included in Taith360 for this purpose. They are intended to guide and inform learning and teaching not to be used simply as a checklist, or a series of criteria to be assessed against in order to arrive at a best-fit judgement – Taith360 will not give you that information. The assessments recorded are not necessarily linear, pupils can move forward and backwards easily, as it is important to show exactly where you feel the pupil’s understanding is in order to know where they need to go next.
Therefore, what the assessments on Taith360 will give you is the information that you can then use to inform planning, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of a cohort, class and/or individual pupil – the intended use of the descriptions of learning as described in the guidance. In addition to this, when combined with general observations and other pupil data recorded on the system, it all comes together to help build a complete picture of each pupil’s learning journey
Taith360 is also being used by schools to support them in exploring what the progression steps mean to them and how this aids with ensuring uniformity is applied across the school. Don’t just take our word for it:
“Taith360 is a very successful resource for us as two schools. It has helped us also to understand the Curriculum for Wales too!” (Headteacher, primary school in Carmarthenshire)
“I would like to thank you for Taith360, it is proving invaluable in helping us get our heads around the new curriculum and is helping us develop our curriculum map and organise ourselves for the next academic year.” (Assessment Lead, Primary School in Cardiff)
As we have discussed, progress is important and being able to identify where progress has been made is vital – the assessments on Taith360 can help with this. As I’ve said, this is not achieved by not by giving you a number and saying whether that is good, bad, on-track, or anything else. Instead, Taith360 highlights Areas or Statements of What Matters which a cohort, class, or pupil may have, or have not, progressed well in. However, in order to show progress, you must first be able to record and show a starting point.
In the Supporting transition from the current arrangements to Curriculum for Wales guidance released on 18th May 2022, it states that “The 2021 to 2022 academic year will have been the final year requiring the statutory Foundation Phase baseline assessment.” We will therefore not be adding this functionality into Taith360.
However, the guidance does add that “on-entry assessment arrangements will be an important part of a school or setting’s overall assessment arrangements to plan and appropriately support a learner to make progress within a curriculum” and it is because of this that we will be adding a baseline function into Taith360 ready for the new academic year.
For us, as well as supporting schools to use the tool, development of Taith360 is an on-going process. We are constantly looking at ways of further enhancing the system based upon recommendations and requests from the schools that use it, hopefully resulting in us building the best system possible for Wales.
If you would like to hear more about Taith360 or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Support Manager, Assessment360