Leadership programme

Learner Profiles: assessment for an expansive curriculum

Matt Patrick

Assistant Head

Atelier 21 Future School

As a pioneering school, Atelier 21 prides itself on crafting meaningful, joyful, and relevant learning experiences for our future changemakers. However, with diverse cohorts from Reception to Year 11, one of the many challenges we face is how to authentically assess and document student progress while delivering a fluid, emergent curriculum.

The answer, we believe, lies in Learner Profiles. Such a model enables us to shift away from the archaic reporting of effort and attainment, which is not fit for purpose. Instead, we can focus on assessment for learning, developing skills and dispositions in order to deepen learning.

Our Reggio-inspired primary curriculum is emergent and doesn’t fit the traditional assessment mould. Yes, we have elements such as Skills Slams with a numeracy and literacy focus, but these sessions are created in response to a Big Studies project-based learning unit, which has a Humanities focus but is interdisciplinary and requires students to acquire more than content knowledge to thrive. Additionally, we have worked closely with our school patron, Guy Claxton, to weave in his Learning Power approach into the everyday language of our school, and as a result our students are familiar with reflecting on their learning and progress, rather than fixating on a final grade.

From Year 7 to Year 11 we deliver the MYP IB programme; a rigorous curriculum driven by global contexts and concepts, with students required to develop the IB Learner Profile by using the Approaches to Learning (AtLs) of Communication, Thinking, Social, Self-Management and Research skills. As with our primary school, traditional assessment and reporting models are unable to tell the full story of our learner’s growth.

All this brings us back to Learner Profiles and our Next Big 10 Working Group. In collaboration with similarly progressive educators from Alexandra Primary, St Mary’s Derbyshire, Thornbury Primary, and Park Community School we have explored a variety of models from around the world.

The beauty of Learner Profiles is the ease with which schools can personalise their design and content. We are currently leaning towards adopting Google Sites due to its ease of use, but now the hard work begins – what to assess?

Drawing inspiration from the IB Learner Profile and Deeper Learning Competencies we have selected ten Atelier21 dispositions.

  • Inquisitive
  • Determined
  • Reflective
  • Creative
  • Open-Minded
  • Knowledgeable
  • Communicative
  • Balanced
  • Principled
  • Collaborative

We believe these dispositions are what's required to create future changemakers in the 21st century and have assigned certain skills which students can explicitly develop. For example, in order to enhance their creativity students will have opportunities to brainstorm, connect, apply, produce, visualise, and play, to name but a few. Students will then be able to document how their experiences provide the opportunity to apply skills and develop dispositions. These experiences will not be limited to the classroom as students will have the opportunity to reflect on their growth in community projects, sports, and wellbeing activities.

The benefit of Learner Profiles is far ranging as it will enable us to turn parent’s evenings into student-led conferences, eradicate much of the time-consuming nature of reports, and deliver more authentic and engaging exhibitions.

As we approach the halfway mark of this two-year project, we have reached the prototype stage of our design thinking process, having spent time empathising, defining and ideating. We’re all excited to see how our stakeholders – students, parents and teachers – will receive our proposals.

Matt Patrick, Assistant Head, Atelier 21 Future School

Big Education

Leadership Programme

Applications are now open for headteachers and senior leaders working across education. The programme gives you the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and equip you with powerful strategies to bring about the changes you believe in.

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Related programmes

This blog is from a school taking part in The Next Big 10, a programme for schools who are transforming education against strong headwinds

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