8 years of maintaining standards in Primary Writing in England & Wales

Chris Wheadon and Daisy Christodoulou

In the summer of 2016 we ran our first writing pilot with 5 schools and 256 pupils aged 10 to 11. Our idea was to use Comparative Judgement to help schools measure their pupils’ progress in their writing over time and to be able to compare the progress of their pupils to pupils in other schools. Since then we have assessed over 2 million pieces of writing from pupils aged 4 to 16 globally.

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We started the project because schools at the time were disenchanted with the assessment of writing that was required at that time by the Department for Education. The disenchantment was at two levels. Firstly, schools felt that the assessment was unfair as different standards were being applied in different areas of the country, and that they may be disadvantaged by local authorities applying harsh or generous standards in the absence of any national system of moderation. Secondly, they felt that the approach constrained the teaching of writing and rewarded mechanical features over freedom of expression.

So why did we think that we could improve on the current system? We had been using Comparative Judgement for a number of years for various research projects and had begun to understand its power. Typically the advantages of Comparative Judgement are considered to be the following: