Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at moderation and its implications for teachers and learners.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be selected for QAMSO (Quality Assurance and Moderation Support Officer) training provided by Education Scotland. It consisted of six twilight sessions delivered online with colleagues from across the authority.  The stated aims of the course were;

  • to outline key features of assessment and moderation
  • to consider the validity and reliability of the moderation process
  • to identify support available to ensure continuous improvement
  • to reflect and consider the next steps in moderation

The intention is to revisit the course and look at its recommendations and see, now some time has passed and there has been an opportunity to reflect on the training if the advice delivered is practical in terms of moderating children’s work in a busy school environment.  So often the ‘golden standard’ of what teachers are asked to deliver is not something that can be achieved within what would be considered a reasonable timeframe. Meaning either something is sacrificed or teachers have to spend substantial amounts of time, outside of their working agreement, to make it work. If the recommendations are good, super, but if not, then how can they be adapted to fit into a working day that enhances the children’s learning without causing undue stress on their teachers.?
Moderation is a necessary part of what is considered good teaching and learning practice.  In 2016 HM Inspectorate stated that ‘Moderation is the way in which practitioners arrive at a shared understanding of standards and expectations.’ It went on to point out that;

  • moderation is integral to the planning of learning, teaching and assessment
  • that moderation should take an ongoing, collegiate approach to learning, teaching and assessment
  • that practitioners should use a range of evidence from different sources to discuss standards and the progress of learners
  • the process of moderation should not be an activity that happens only at the end of a block or year

Even at this point, the idea of moderation is beginning to look somewhat daunting. What do those four points look like in practice? Where is the time coming from to allow all this to happen? If there is time, does the time spent on moderation have a proven positive impact on learning outcomes and how? Or, for the more cynically minded is it an exercise in bureaucratic accountability?
The next post will address the idea that moderation is more than an exercise in bureaucratic accountability. it will look at some of the evidence suggesting that it is worth the investment in not only the time engaged in moderation but also the time it takes to integrate moderation practices into teacher planning, teaching and assessment.