Assessment for new NPQs

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News - 13th Aug 2021

By Stephanie Bingham

We sat down with Stephanie Bingham, Programme Director at NETSP, to find out about the key changes to assessment. Steph is responsible for leading the development of assessment for School-Led Network’s new suite of NPQs.

What does assessment look like on the new NPQs?

The new NPQs are different from the current ones in various ways, but a particular change can be seen in assessment. Whereas the current programmes involve a school improvement project which participants write up after running it for at least two terms, in the new programmes, there is no school improvement project. Instead, participants will complete an end of programme assessment based on a school scenario. 

How will that work?

The materials relating to the scenario will be released at the beginning of an eight-day window, and it works like an open-book exam. Participants answer questions based on the scenario and its accompanying documents, reflecting their understanding of the framework and their learning over the course of the 12-18 months of their NPQ.

Why is the assessment model different to the previous NPQs?

This change has been made by the DfE in acknowledgement of teacher workload. It is designed to support teachers to consider how they would apply the learning from the project in school, without the complexities of a school improvement project.

How are the new assessments designed?

Designing these assessments is a very interesting process. We focus on the framework to begin with, and then consult with serving school leaders about a scenario they have encountered which addresses a range of the statements and content areas. We then populate the scenario with documents from schools which provide the participants with stimulus materials on which to base their answer to the questions posed. The answer should reflect a deep knowledge and understanding of the programme framework and content, and allow the participant to think carefully about the leadership of change and improvement. 

What impact will the changes have on participant development?

This new assessment process is a vehicle for participants to apply their learning from the programme to resolve a practical school-based problem. It also exposes them to a school which may be very different from their own, requiring them to think about leadership in broader terms than might be the case if only focusing on their own school.

Are there other changes to assessment we should know about?

The other significant change to assessment is that all programmes will include regular opportunities for formative assessment to enable participants to track their growing skill set and gauge their increasing knowledge of the framework statements and the underlying evidence base. These opportunities will take a variety of forms, including facilitator feedback, self-audits and independent study tasks. 

Stephanie has been Programme Director at NETSP since January 2017, leading the development and delivery of NPQs and the Early Career Framework in partnership with schools across the North East. She had a 23-year career as a history teacher and senior leader in secondary schools in the NE, before working in Hartlepool and then the Tees Valley as part of the Transforming Tees project. She has developed bespoke leadership programmes for Hartlepool BC as well as for individual schools, and has published research into successful practice with disadvantaged pupils in the Tees Valley. Whilst in  Hartlepool she also conducted a study and published a report into raising boys' achievement.

School-Led Network is offering the full suite of new NPQs in collaboration with Delivery Partners in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and London. To find out more and apply, please click here.