This site is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Data and Meaningful Assessment In The EY

Data and Meaningful Assessment In The EY

At Wellington colleges China, we understand how vital it is for the educators working with our youngest children to have accurate and reliable information.

This support them in making the most informed decisions when transforming academic content and knowledge into the beginnings of a successful learning journey. Nothing is more important than the levels of Wellbeing in our pupils but added to this, levels of Involvement are also monitored and reported to ensure that each child reaches their potential. The following article outlines how all our schools in China, bilingual and international use the Leuven Scales to measure Wellbeing and Involvement and how their central place in accurate, meaningful assessment impacts directly on progress and the quality of our teaching offer.

So what are the Leuven Scales? They are a system of monitoring a child`s levels of WB and I whereby the teacher makes a judgement of a child`s level on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Judgements are against a series of descriptors and all our teachers, teaching assistants and leads are trained in how to use them.

The aim of the teacher is to create conditions for learning which enable the pupil to score as closely to 4 or 5 as possible in both domains and once this is reached, we know the child is thriving in their school environment. We use observation as the means of deciding on a child`s levels of WB and I but if this is not conclusive, all those who work with the pupil, including the family will come together and share what they see and know about the child. Recognizing and monitoring levels of Wellbeing and Involvement is about understanding the process of what is going on inside the child and, as such, is an active switch from a product to process oriented approach. The best way of doing this is by observing behaviours, verbal and non-verbal communication in a range of everyday contexts – from the classroom to information from home. As we judge pupils against the 5 scales of WB and I, any scores which fall at 3 or less are then cross checked in a different situation, for example, when the child is working within a different group and/or outdoors to not only ensure a holistic view of the pupil but also to consider any external factors which are influencing their levels of engagement or how they are feeling about school life.  The rationale behind this approach is that the higher the levels of WB and I, the greater the rate of progress in all areas of their development.

The structure of the approach is in 3 phases from termly group screenings to individual observation and analysis, with the final stage being intervention where teachers take the initiative to raise levels in a range of ways. Some interventions result in higher scores almost immediately and some take longer as the teacher considers what is preventing the child from having high levels of WB and/or Involvement in their learning. What are they missing in terms of their knowledge of the child?

As we have a cross group policy on the importance of WB and I, we use this very systematic approach to evaluate the context, process and quality of the child’s experience alongside the impact or outcome of any changes in teaching. We ask ourselves about the progress which can be seen in a child’s Characteristics of Effective Learning as well as in their knowledge and skills in all subject areas. All the time the focus is on the educator’s responsibility to raise the levels and swiftly changes the teacher`s mindset from what is wrong with the child to what do we NOT know about them and/or what are not doing well enough. Parents are very much part of the discussion if a lower level persists and always very willing to embrace such a personal and insightful approach. All our Learning Walks and Board reporting include narratives from each school on levels of WB and I and what has had the greatest impact that term. If there is a significant period of low WB and I for a particular child, we then look at extra causes such as an undiagnosed learning need in communication and language, social-emotional development or significant changes in the home.

The impact of the approach has been seen in many ways. Attainment data shows striking evidence of much greater progress in all areas of development but particularly in English Communication and Language and Literacy as pupils are more motivated to learn a second language from higher levels of engagement in the classroom. Equally visible is the improvement in the quality of teaching from the ways in which learning environments have been transformed into spaces where children are learning so much more independently to the responsiveness of leaders to changing daily routines and intentional teaching approaches. Finally, all teaching teams refer to WB and I as the first indicators of how a child is thriving or not fulfilling their potential and it has become second nature to consider these elements in planning, monitoring and reporting the quality of teaching and learning.

Together with measuring WB and I, we assess 7 areas of learning and development in the Early Years and Communication and Language and Literacy are monitored equally in English and Chinese. Baseline assessment supports our understanding of each pupil's individual needs, the skills they bring to the learning environment and their internal 'will' to learn. It demonstrates a critical reference point for assessing and measuring changes and impact on a pupil's learning throughout the year as it establishes a basis for comparing attainment and achievement before, during and after learning takes place as we navigate through the Wellington/Huili curriculum. Beginning of year assessments are vital in allowing us to see the whole child and understand their individual potential.


What do pupils bring with them to their new learning environment and what are they able to do? What skills do they already have and on what can we build?


As teachers explore with their pupils, they need to quickly measure levels of interest, engagement, skills   and knowledge. Also, is this meaningful for their pupils? Is it inspiring them to learn?


Based on the data gathered – what learning can take place that is fit for purpose, meaningful and with the exact level of challenge to drive learning forward?

From these initial judgements, accurate data tracking will further assist to set appropriate, achievable, and ambitious targets for a whole class, groups of, and individual pupils.

Digging deeper into the reporting of attainment data is now crucial to maintain the momentum of im-proving assessment approaches and triangulation techniques have been the focus over the last year. Each School Board now has a familiar and consistent tool to judge the quality of our Early Years offer and question strategy in a more informed way. Intra- and inter-school moderation precedes all final data points and support is available to help individual schools with any outstanding anomalies. As our teachers and leads became more confident with their judgements, data is now being used more strategically. We worked with Matthew Savage, famous for his work #themonalisaeffect as well as with Professor Ferre Leavers himself and his expert training team. From this, we can see palpable links be-tween the Leuven Scales, attainment, progress and the quality of teaching and, indeed, leadership.

So, have the levels of Wellbeing and Involvement increased since we have started to use the Leuven Scales? Undoubtably, the answer is yes. Since starting to observe and assess in this way, WB has in-creased across all schools, with trends also improving at typically low times of the year such as transition periods. Teachers, TAs and leads use this data alongside attainment to scrutinize what barriers there might be to a child fulfilling their potential. Does low wellbeing mean the task is too easy or too hard?

How can we adapt or change the conditions for learning to enable higher levels of engagement? Peda-logical approaches, targeting intentional teaching within child-centred planning and either small touches or large-scale refurbishments to learning environments have impacted greatly on child well-being and has been proved by re screening once changes are made. Also, highly effective have been considering the rhythm of the day through the child`s eyes, conversations with children and families about specific interest and fascinations as well using objective led planning techniques to support second language acquisition within play.

Using the Leuven Scales to scan the learning offer for WB and I is often overlooked but we have combined this with screening individual children to impact on wellbeing by raising pupil autonomy in all aspects of the day, together with a focus on ensuring strong relationships between the child and ALL adults within the school community. For us, balancing and cross-checking levels of WB with Involve-ment has been the game changer as the 2 are so inter-related. A child who has low WB cannot be as engaged in their learning and similarly, one who is not highly motivated and focused on what they are doing can only ever have average levels of WB. Observing the 2 side-by-side gives the complete picture and interventions can be targeted, age appropriate and effective. Worth mentioning as well is the im-pact on staff wellbeing. This has been significant as teams appreciate how assessment systems reflect our vision and values as a group of schools. Rather than a meaningless piece of data collection, they understand that observing WB and I is an additional and meaningful angle to identifying children who need special attention and that to maximise the conditions for teaching and learning, these are vital components.

With the approach of measuring WB and I at the centre of assessment, staff teams do not see it as extra workload but as beneficial to improving teaching outcomes for all, including themselves. We see the school in the shape of a heat lamp where we aim for all pupils to be under the central space and not on the edge, getting cold and with either low wellbeing or a lack of engagement. This general “watching over” the pupil and the provision reminds us daily of what is really important for every child and adds rigour to our purpose: that children are supported to be confident, resilient and, as Prof Fer-re Leavers says, a “fish in water”, with high levels of motivation and deep satisfaction stemming from the fulfilment of the exploratory drive.

In summary, when the two conditions of WB and I are fulfilled, we know that both the social-emotional and cognitive development of the child is secured

Author : Fiona Carter, Director of Education at  Wellington  College International

Fiona has recently transferred from Wellington Colleges China, as their Director for International Business Development to Wellington Colleges International to be their Director of Education. Her role specialises in Early Years and Primary education and combines quality assurance with ensuring that all international schools in the group act as thought leaders in the educational provision they offer in existing and upcoming schools. Fiona began her international career with the consultancy group, Early Excellence as a trainer, speaker and specialist in the design of learning environments and went onto advising governments and school groups in the Middle East and SE Asia on academic strategy and governance.  Previous to this, she led in Local authority school improvement teams in SE England and primary schools in the north. Fiona is a strong advocate for the implementation of approaches such as PEEC and the Leuven Scales to ensure that pupil wellbeing and involvement are central to planning for progress and has recently worked closely with international assessment leaders and principals to promote and advise on what is regarded as effective and inspirational values-based education.