The ‘Formative 5’ route to assessing learners’ progress

By Louise Ford

As teachers, we are always thinking of new and effective ways to determine learning in the classroom and how to monitor the progress our learners are making. When teaching maths and English in further education, especially within a work-based learning environment, you can never have too many assessment methods up your sleeve. If you have ever taught a learner who lacks confidence in their own ability or has difficulty retaining what they have learned between lessons, try the ‘Formative 5’ assessment method following each topic they are taught. This is a formative assessment

I use consisting of five tasks which can be generated by the teacher. For example, tasks may be mock test questions or a peer development exercise where a learner teaches their method to a

partner. If created in line with the curriculum they give a measurable indication of what the student has learned.

Since using the ‘Formative 5’ assessment with my maths learners, I have received very positive feedback. Learners who had low confidence in their own ability are now recognising what they can achieve. As a further suggestion, why not follow this assessment by involving your learners in setting their next learning targets. This will help them to take responsibility for their own learning and recognise their recent achievements. If you try this with your learners,

I’d love to hear your experiences. Please contact me with feedback or any questions on Twitter @LouiseF1107 or by email louise.



Louise Ford is a Functional Skills Tutor at PTS Training Academy (Northampton). She holds Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) and is a Fellow of SET.

We all know the challenge: new students who, for a number of reasons, are not engaged with maths and don’t want to continue with it beyond school. I like to start new groups using something I call forced engagement. It is about setting the tone and expectations early on. I ask them questions but give them nowhere to hide. The questions are multiple choice and it’s about how I ask them. There are too many ways to ask such questions to list here, but I prefer a ‘physical’ approach. For example, ask the question and then put three possible answers on the walls, asking learners to stand by the answer they believe to be correct. I ask volunteers to explain why

FINITE IDEAS Area and perimeter calculation seems to be one of the most challenging topics in both GCSE and Functional Skills maths. Students often find it difficult to answer these questions, and the real barrier is their lack of understanding of the topic-specific words. To support my learners in learning and understanding these words,

I created a pack of cards related to the topic. Half of the pack has images of things like floorboards; skirting boards; carpet; paint; wallpaper border; picture frame; picture rail; fence; fence panels; coving; bunting; ribbon; veneer edging; turf; paving stones, and so on. The other half of the pack has words describing the images. Depending on the class, the cards can be used in various ways, such as word-image matching, sorting, a memory game or discussing which cards relate to area and which ones to perimeter calculation. Extra cards can be added with words such as ‘around’, ‘edges’, ‘inside’ or formulae to deepen students’ understanding of the topic. Have fun!

Valeria Panyko is a maths teacher at Croydon College. Valeria holds Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) and is a Fellow of SET.

they are where they are and to try and persuade others to move. We know some will simply go with the majority or with a friend, but they are still being forced into a conscious decision – which is a good start. I find it really helpful to start with questions that have multiple possible answers as this gives the opportunity to create an early discussion around right/wrong answers in maths.

Odd-one-out questions about shapes are a good example because there will be multiple reasons for each choice depending on the criteria used, e.g. area, perimeter, number of sides etc. You will learn a lot about your

group when hearing their reasoning and the type of language they use.

Paul Stych is a Regional Specialist Lead (West Midlands and the South West) in maths for the Education and Training Foundation.


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