Reviewed by Linda Dawson, Deputy Headteacher, The Bemrose School, Derby.
Claire’s book provides us with a very thorough and clear explanation of AfL and puts it well and truly at the heart of school improvement in terms of developing outstanding teaching and learning. Perfect Assessment for Learning is full of practical, fun and imaginative ways of engaging students and teachers in the learning process. The ‘top tips’ sections are bursting with a wide range of strategies which are easy to implement and establish as routine practice in the classroom.
What is very striking about the book is how important the relationship between the teacher and the learner is. Knowing precisely where our strengths and weaknesses lie as teachers and learners is so important and the more we know in this respect I believe the better the learning and progress will be. I particularly liked the suggestion that effective feedback should be two- way. Asking the students to feedback more regularly on my teaching will be something that I will definitely try, I think I might call it ‘knowing me, knowing you’.
I am sure that anyone who is interested in improving learning in their classrooms and schools will find this a stimulating, practical and very effective resource.
Reviewed by Mo Laycock OBE, former Head Teacher (19952010), Firth Park Community Arts College, Sheffield.
This is an excellent and practical book which should be readily available for use by all staff in schools. In particular, senior managers and the teaching and learning coaches team. Used well Claire Gadsby's practical ideas should enhance teaching and learning.
Assessment for learning as Claire describes it should be like a 'golden thread', pulling together effective lesson planning, clear objectives, chunking up the lesson tasks, and ending with an in depth plenary. This consistency across the school is what ultimately moves a school from good to outstanding. Assessment for learning is not an add on or something a teacher embraces when being observed. Indeed prior to being given this label, A for L was what all good teachers did naturally to check on learning. Formalising A for L consistently across a school and using some of Claire's many and various ideas to embed good practice will make a difference to learning outcomes. The opportunities for students to reflect on their learning in pairs, groups, as individuals to help capture and reinforce learning should not be missed.
Used well A for L should underpin the school ethos and practice, being used not just in classrooms but in assemblies, pastoral meetings, corridor conversations and as part of ' restorative justice' approaches.
Claire gives readers opportunities to consider where the school is in respect of A for L as well as some great ideas and pedagogical tips in relation to embedding good learning.
This book should not be on a shelf in school libraries but on the desk of every teacher.
Reviewed by David Didau Director of Learning & Literacy at Clevedon School.
Claire Gadsby's little book is not only crammed with practical wisdom and easy-to-use ideas, but also acknowledges the 'why' of AfL. Too many teachers happily use lolly sticks and traffic lights without really having the slightest idea as to how these strategies will impact on tomorrow’s lesson. This simple, straightforward and easy-to-digest book reminds us of our responsibility as teachers to ensure that students are making progress and then sends us on our way with a staggering array of inventive learning tools to put the message into practice. An essential addition to the Perfect series: recommended.
Reviewed by Joanne Sanchez-Thompson, Education Consultant.
Perfect Assessment for Learning reads well, will be easily understood and digested by its intended audience and has some excellent tips and advice for teachers at any stage of their development.
Reviewed by Tom Barwood M.A. PGCE.
I read Claire’s book once, then I read it again and then I read it again. Initially, when asked to define AfL (normally by a nervous looking NQT), I reply with ‘ask yourself did the students learn what you wanted them to learn and if so how do you know?’.
Claire’s book actually takes the concept to a much more holistic level than this by positioning AfL as more a form of thinking; one which should permeate everything thing we do rather than being just a box ticking exercise at the end of the lesson.
For both the seasoned professional and the NQT this book is a goldmine of ideas and techniques but more importantly it allows practitioners to apply the principle of Growth Mindset to every part of their teaching and student learning.
I learned a lot from reading it.
Reviewed by Paul Spenceley, Lead Practitioner for Assessment for Learning, The Rochester Grammar School.
Dylan Wiliam once said, on feedback to students, that it should ‘make students think’. So too should any book aimed at teachers, and this one certainly does. It summarises the key research on AfL into the simplest of points, and uses these to explain simply how teachers can change their style of teaching to make AfL an integral part of their lessons, and how schools can put AfL central to student progress.
Much more than just a collections of AfL ideas to ‘add’ to lessons. This book highlights the importance of AfL being central to teaching. Using key research points sensibly and clearly, along side practical tips for developing AfL at a whole school and classroom level.
Demystifies the key research behind AfL, by simplifying the key facts. Makes the reader realise that AfL is not something you can add to lessons, but a way of teaching. Full of clear and simple ideas for putting AfL at the centre of lessons, and whole school policies.
AfL isn’t what you do, it’s how you do it. This book makes that abundantly clear. Summarising the key points of the latest research in the area, to suggest simple, everyday, changes to lessons and school policies, to make AfL central to student progress.