Interview with a moderator

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To get the inside track on moderation best practices, what evidence to look out for, and what you can improve on — we went straight to the source.

In July 2019, maths mastery specialist Joe Jackson-Taylor interviewed a moderator who had been into schools using MNP. The moderator had been into a mixture of infant and primary schools to audit the accuracy of teacher assessments at Key Stage 1. Here’s what he learned.

Q1: In the schools you visited, what was the biggest area for improvement you saw?

“A big area for improvement was reasoning evidence to support greater depth. In certain cases, when we queried the lack of greater depth evidence, we received the response: “This strand will be covered in next week’s tasks. This prompted a moderation revisit from another team to investigate further. You don’t need loads, but teachers do need to be able to articulate the evidence in front of them and talk about the child. My advice? Use exemplification materials!”

The moderator emphasised the importance of presenting evidence to support greater depth and explaining the differences in SATs results and teacher assessments. But how does that translate to your practice?

While the exemplification materials show how ‘pupil can’ statements might be met, they don’t specify the evidence expected or impose teaching methods. There are no set rules for how much evidence to collect, but it’s generally agreed that you need to have three pieces of evidence per strand. It’s a good idea to have a strategy for collecting evidence. This will help you feel confident that you’ll have what you need for moderation.

Q2: Did you see any other areas for improvement in these schools?

“Another area for improvement was the correlation between SATs test scores and teacher assessment — at times, the disparity was astonishing.”

…and what did you do if there was a disparity?

“First we looked at previous test scores that had been gathered throughout the year. Then we went to other evidence, such as journals. We also looked carefully at teacher assessments for those children who didn’t take the test but were assessed as Working Towards the Expected Standard (WTS) rather than Pre Key Stage (PKS), especially in infant schools.”

A disparity between scaled score and teacher assessment isn’t always a bad thing so long as you have the evidence to support your judgements. If SATs scores and teacher assessments don’t match up, practice articulating the children’s wider profile, including journals, how they contribute to class discussions, and their verbal responses to your questioning.

Q3: You’ve been on both sides: going into schools as a moderator, and being moderated yourself. In your opinion, how useful is the involvement of the School Leadership Team?

“Well, you definitely have greater confidence in internal moderation procedures when the leadership team is clearly involved. It just means that everyone is on the same page.”

Having your leadership team involved in moderation ensures consistency and helps you gain a ‘whole school’ perspective. Carrying out a mock moderation within your school is also a great way to feel more confident in your judgements and to invite feedback from colleagues.

Q4: What would you change as a practitioner?

“Hmmm. I guess it comes back to having confidence in the fact that you don’t need loads of evidence. One piece of evidence per strand is enough! Just be confident: verbal evidence is just as important.”

Confidence plays a big part in a successful moderation. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, check out my previous post on preparing for moderation. Or email me at joejacksontaylor@gmail.com for our mock moderation design which includes challenging questions as well as teacher response scripts.

is a primary maths mastery specialist and a specialist lead in education for mathematics, and a contributor to the Blog.
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