Capturing Growth: The Link Between Pupil Voice and Long-Term Learning

Tej Samani, CEO, Performance Learning and Honorary Research Fellow, Sussex University argues that it's time to reconsider the narrow scope through which we assess pupil performance.

Tej Samani, CEO, Performance Learning and Honorary Research Fellow, Sussex University argues that it's time to reconsider the narrow scope through which we assess pupil performance.

Introduction

Current assessment methods lack the depth required to understand the multidimensional nature of a pupil. Specifically, assessing how they learn (intellectual readiness) and how they feel about how they learn (emotional eagerness) – mental health, attitudes, and behaviours toward learning – are often relegated to the background, despite their profound impact on a pupil's progress and attainment.

The Importance of Pupil Voice

A pupil's voice goes beyond a mere echo in the corridors of schools; it is a powerful force that governs attitude, approach, engagement, hunger (shall I go on?). Ok, one more, the ability to learn. By actively involving pupils in shaping their learning experiences, we tap into the core of what drives them. How attitudes and perceptions intertwine with motivation becomes a pivotal aspect of this dynamic.

My own experiences shaped my professional interest in assessment. A turbulent experience in school, followed by five years of gruelling competition as a professional tennis player after leaving school, led me to question the effectiveness of traditional assessment methods.

Inspired by personal struggles and an obsession to uncover (now documented in a doctoral thesis) what the most sustainable and transferable way to uplift performance in pupils would be. I delved into the crucial yet often overlooked link between pupil voice and long-term learning, finding that existing, traditional assessment approaches usually fail to comprehensively understand a pupil's potential.

The Missing Dimensions in Assessment

I had a difficult time in school, so I traded my math books for tennis rackets and competed as an ATP Touring Pro for several years. It was on the circuit where I felt ‘kids like me’ who struggled to learn needed an approach that would personalise assessment and adopt a more ‘how to learn’ approach. This sparked an idea. I founded Performance Learning (PL) in 2012. PL is a range of technology and services across Justice and Education that have a dedicated focus on improving Skills, Readiness to learn, Workplace Readiness and Mental Health.

Performance Learning interventions, lasting between one and two academic terms, provide assessments that help pupils identify strengths and areas of improvement in their meta-cognition, from behaviour to core learning skills. This is followed up with personalised learning that focuses on teaching pupils how to learn through the company’s online platform and live coaching.

In one analysis of 940 low previous attainment 15-16-year-olds from schools across the UK, the intervention showed on average a +2.2 grade increase in national examination results (averaged across math, biology, chemistry, physics, history and geography) compared to the grades originally predicted by the school, an effect size of 1.95.

Pupil Voice as a Centerpiece

In the grand scheme of education, the pupil's voice should be a centrepiece rather than an afterthought. Recognising its centrality is essential for creating meaningful and tailored learning pathways for each pupil. When we elevate pupil voice, we unlock a wealth of insights into their unique needs, fostering an environment where they can thrive.

Attitudes and Perceptions Governing Motivation

Understanding the intricate connection between attitudes, perceptions, and motivation is vital. These elements act as silent architects, shaping the way pupils approach learning. By acknowledging and addressing these factors, educators can ignite a sustainable flame of motivation that propels pupils toward long-term success.

Overlooking Mental Health in Assessments

Mental health is a critical factor that significantly influences a pupil's ability to learn and perform. Yet, traditional assessments often sideline this aspect. Incorporating mental health considerations into assessments is not just about empathy; it's a strategic move toward holistic education and a genuine understanding of each pupil's potential.

Rethinking Learning Pathways

As we reconsider the assessment landscape, it becomes clear that pupil voice should guide the design of learning pathways. Shifting from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalised, pupil-centric model ensures that education meets the diverse needs of pupils.

Conclusion

In conclusion, capturing growth goes beyond academic achievements—it encompasses the holistic development of pupils. We lay the foundation for a transformative educational experience by embracing and prioritising pupil voice. It's time to move away from the confines of traditional assessments and adopt a more comprehensive approach that considers the 4D view of each pupil, acknowledging their mental health, attitudes, and behaviours as integral components of their educational journey.

The future of education lies in the hands and voices of our pupils; let's ensure they are heard.

You can find out more at https://myperformancelearning.com/

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