The Rochford Review, and our work with The Department for Education

The Village School's Response to The Rochford Review and our work with The Department for Education

Background to the Rochford Review

In 2015 the government established an independent review of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils in key stages 1 and 2 who are working below the standard of national curriculum assessments, led by Diane Rochford. Following consultation on the Rochford Review’s recommendations from March to June 2017, the government response was published in September 2017.

The government accepted the recommendations that Performance (P) scales  should be removed as the statutory assessment arrangement for these pupils at the end of key stage 1 (KS1) and key stage 2 (KS2) and replaced with 2 new forms of assessment: pre-key stage standards for pupils engaged in subject-specific study (who were being assessed against P Scales 5-8) and, subject to a national pilot evaluation, the 7 aspects of engagement for pupils not engaged in subject-specific study (who were usually being assessed against P Scales 1-4).

The final pre-key stage standards were published on 24 May 2018, providing advance notice to schools ahead of their statutory use from the 2018/19 academic year onwards. Because the 7 aspects of engagement were relatively untested as a statutory assessment approach, we confirmed that we would pilot their use with a view to introducing them on a statutory basis in the 2019/20 academic year, subject to the findings of the pilot. 

The 7 aspects of engagement pilot ran between January and July 2018. Its purpose was to identify issues associated with implementing the 7 aspects assessment approach as statutory. The pilot involved 55 schools, including 13 mainstream (i.e. non-special) schools. Schools were given the autonomy to develop their own approaches to using the 7 aspects of engagement to assess their pupils, according to the curriculum they use and the needs of individual pupils. The research company, IFF, conducted an evaluation of the pilot. This evaluation was in two parts – an interim phase in the spring and a final phase in the summer, leading to the final evaluation report, which we have published with this announcement. 


Findings of the pilot 

The Village School, among others, was part of the pilot which focused on identifying good practice, as well as implementation issues, regarding the use of the 7 aspects of engagement as a statutory assessment approach. 

The evaluation found that some schools were enthusiastic about the potential of the 7 aspects of engagement as a summative assessment tool, especially when they assimilated it with their pre-existing assessment methods, such as framing the 7 aspects observations in the context of the pupil’s EHC plan. Many schools also found it helpful as a tool to improve the quality of teaching and were enthusiastic about how it helped them to increase their knowledge of individual pupils and identify personalised ways to develop pupil engagement. Some schools shared the 7 aspects assessment data with parents and found it provided a more rounded understanding of the child’s progress. 

The Village School was asked to present its outstanding findings and practice to a panel of experts from across the country in assessment, pedagogy and practice and, as a result, was asked to join the Expert Review Group, one of only two schools in the country to be selected. 

Next steps 

  • The Department for Education has convened an expert review group – led by Diane Rochford and comprising a small number of experts and practitioners in this field, including Ofsted, to conduct a review of the 7 aspects of engagement model. The Village School has accepted the prestigious opportunity to be involved in this group. Part of our role will be to review the individual aspects of engagement, with a view to reducing the number that need to be assessed against and to define them more clearly. We will also be developing the key governing principles that schools should be aware of when using the new assessment model.
  • As part of the expert group we are overseeing the informal trialling of the new engagement model in some schools which is taking place in March. Schools will be asked to reflect and provide feedback on the revised model and its principles, and will be able to use it with some of their pupils in order to see how it works in practice.

The Village School is also involved in developing a detailed guidance and training package for schools. This package will equip them with the skills and confidence to conduct the assessment in a way that will minimise additional workload burdens, building upon the best practice of schools who are doing it well.