Enter Balance: a new educational software platform which makes planning, feedback and assessment simpler - and more effective - for all.
“Unlike other tracking systems, Balance is underpinned by sound and well-researched pedagogical principles,” explains Adam Vasco, deputy headteacher at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School. “By assessing the depth of learning alongside curriculum coverage, we have a truly formative assessment tool which informs future planning. Analysis is now not a tool simply for senior leaders; it is the starting point of all learning.”
The resource reframes assessment, preventing it from becoming a burdensome task, and instead making it a pivotal part of feedback. Following a learning-powered approach, Balance focuses on depth of learning at any given point, understanding that learning progression is not linear, and that the involvement of pupils in their own assessment is vital to progress.
Team 2’s socialising songbird puppet encouraged good collaboration today and we used the @balance_edu wheel to support reflective conversations on how well our groups were collaborating. Today we focused on how to use questioning to make sure all members of the team are involved pic.twitter.com/HrFmLgynFm— Team Two (@TeamTwoStBs) April 19, 2018
How does Balance work?
Balance uses a sliding scale of 1-9 and then ‘secure’ on a ‘learning wheel’. The lower the number given as assessment, the less that child has / group of children have understood, the higher the number... you get the gist.
“The numbers in many ways are irrelevant,” remarks Adam. “What is important is that we understand that the children are on a learning journey, giving thought to how to deepen their understanding. This is the beauty of the wheel!”
Schools will ascribe learning power statements to different points on the wheel and use this as a displays around school to promote a growth mindset:
When is Balance used?
It depends on the school, the teacher, the subject, the day... Schools which are seeing the biggest impact use Balance daily or weekly. This makes the data meaningful and usable for the driving of learning.
Paula Fewtrell, headteacher at St Margaret’s Infant School, discusses: “It suits each individual teacher’s working preferences. We no longer have a mad rush to input or complete data each term; this was making assessment a burdensome task for teachers. Depending on the subject or their preference, our teachers make notes and use the Balance learning wheel either as close to the point of learning as possible, or at the end of the week.”
After discussing learning using the @balance_edu wheel - today I introduced our ‘Not yet... Getting it... Got it’ trays. Children put books in to show me their assessment of their own learning during that lesson pic.twitter.com/8bse8O5v51— Joseph Brassington (@jjbrassington) March 8, 2018
Who is Balance for?
Balance is ideal for Primary schools looking to reduce their reliance on written feedback, in favour of feedback at point of learning. If your tracker does not reflect what is taking place in the classroom, then Balance will.
As Ruth Town, headteacher at St Michael-in-the-Hamlet Primary School, puts it: “With Balance, we use a clear and progressive curriculum to know exactly where to focus their teaching. Teachers can capture learning, allowing immediate feedback to share next steps. Pupils become actively involved in their learning process and understand more clearly their next steps. As a result of this, they make significant gains in their learning!”
Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!