Assessment for Learning without Limits
This book explores assessment practices that offer an enlightening and enabling view of all learners. Following the demise of national curriculum levels, the book embraces a unique opportunity to change how children are assessed. Rather than simply replacing the old structure with a new one, it focuses instead on enabling children to learn in meaningful ways so that assessment becomes a tool for improvement rather than judgment. Building on two influential research studies, Learning without Limits (Hart et al 2004) and Creating Learning without Limits (Swann et al 2012), the book continues the story of an alternative ‘learning without limits’ pedagogy.
Inspired by a relentless focus on every child’s capacity to learn, the book explores what can be achieved when we remove limits on learning. School leaders and teachers, struggling against practices that seeks to define, label and rank, explore the opportunity to view assessment reform as a means of reducing inequity through ‘learning without limits’ principles of collaboration, professional learning and inquiry. Children share their views and offer powerful insights into what may be achieved when limits are lifted on their learning. Consequently a liberating and alternative view of assessment is presented, achieved through children and adults working in partnership. Throughout the book, practical examples are offered, illustrated by real life stories, often about children who have achieved more than their teachers thought possible.
At a time when schools are in pursuit of new assessment practices and reporting of progress, the insights in this book about what is possible are highly pertinent for individual teachers, school leaders and teacher educators wondering how best to foster children’s learning capacity.
“This is a great book, and as one of the nine teachers who was part of the original ‘Learning without Limits’ research project I can vouch for Dame Alison Peacock’s unswerving commitment to, and passion for, the principles of Learning without Limits embodied within its pages. Throughout the book, powerful and authentic stories about leading, learning, listening, dialogue and trust bring a bold and transformative approach to assessment within the grasp of all educational practitioners and leaders.
However, this is not just a book about assessment, but a book about leadership through partnership, founded upon the principles of Learning without Limits. The ten key leadership practices for building trust, outlined at the start of the book, are vital for success across the whole educational sector and should be taken to heart by all those involved in teaching and learning, whether it be at primary, secondary, further or higher education level.”
Dr. Claire Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, UK
“Any primary teacher or leader feeling ground-down or disenfranchised needs to read this book. Its agenda and commitment are uplifting - to generate a love of learning and realise achievement in every child, irrespective of their circumstances or prior attainment. Assessment for Learning Without Limits rejects the ability labels which are so often linked to social class trends and segregation in our schools. A commitment to high expectations and social justice permeates the book, yet Alison Peacock's method is to encourage and excite teachers, rather than hammering and bureaucratizing. Her arguments are inspiring and convincing, supported by lively case studies and research evidence.”
Professor Becky Francis, Professor of Education and Social Justice, King's College London, UK
"This book tackles the difficult and very important task of bringing together the Learning Without Limits big ideas and the challenging topic of assessment. In it, Alison Peacock shows clearly the damage done by assessment contaminated by ability-labelling and other ability-based practices, and argues the moral and educational necessity of doing assessment in a different way.
Distinctive features of the book include a sustained emphasis on the necessary conditions for transformability, a key concept in the original Learning without Limits study. Another is the argument for the centrality of formative assessment – assessment that works for children, and every aspect of their learning. Drawing on her experience as headteacher, with contributions from other primary and secondary school staff groups across the country, Alison Peacock makes a powerful case for trust and dialogue as the essential building blocks of this 'different way'."
Mary Jane Drummond and Susan Hart, Co-authors of Learning without Limits and Creating Learning without Limits, UK
"In contrast to some rather 'dry' books on assessment that start with abstract principles and seek illustrations of them, this book works the other way around. It is full of rich stories of practice and the voices of children and their teachers. In this way the integral connections among assessment, pedagogy and curriculum are made very clear. The vital importance of listening to children, engaging in dialogue for understanding, and communication with parents and carers, in an atmosphere of trust, is emphasised. Yet, teachers and leaders will be reassured that assessment for learning, as distinct from assessment purely for accountability can lead to excellent performance without any need for 'ability labelling' of children."
Mary James, Professor Emerita, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, UK
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