Embarking on the Lead Assessor Support Programme

By Julie Cheung, Headteacher, Brownlow Fold Primary School, Halliwell, Bolton.

I am in my seventh year as the head teacher at Brownlow Fold Primary School in Bolton. Brownlow Fold is a larger than average primary school. The proportion of our pupils known to be eligible for the Pupil Premium is above average. We are an inner urban school situated in an area of deprivation in the Halliwell Ward of Bolton. We have had an increase in in-year admissions and higher levels of pupils with SEND and learning difficulties linked mainly to Communication and Interaction and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. Thirteen out of seventeen possible ethnic groups attend Brownlow Fold.

Our location deprivation indicator is in quintile 5 (most deprived) of all schools and the pupil base is in quintile 5 (most deprived) of all schools in terms of deprivation. The proportion of pupils who do not speak English, as their first language is significantly high, as is the proportion of children who are at the early stages of learning English. The overwhelming majority of our pupils start school significantly below age related expectations.

An extremely high proportion of our pupils enter our pre-school and Reception class with knowledge, skills and understanding significantly below that typically expected. The language in common for pupils is most likely to be Guajarati or Urdu. The overwhelming majority of our pupils are simultaneous language learners, as they enter school without a firm grasp of the basics in English or their home language. A very large proportion of our pupils have mosque and madrassa commitments after school. The school’s Index of Deprivation shows 97% of our pupils originate from the top 30% most deprived areas in England, representing the highest level of deprivation. Our Vision, Core Aims and Values are embedded and emphasises the strong partnership between parents/carers, pupils, the staff, governors and our community, and reflects our mission ‘Together We Fly’.


Embarking on the Lead Assessor Support Programme

Our core purpose at Brownlow Fold is to ensure that we improve educational outcomes for all our pupils and ensure that pupils leave us well prepared academically, socially and emotionally for the next stage of their education. We offer our children a lot more than just the National Curriculum and focus on more than ‘just doing well in tests.’ Skills such as honesty, integrity, resilience, empathy and being a good friend are life skills that are necessary for society and every workplace. Our curriculum helps our children to develop their interests and abilities, providing valuable learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom, promoting their independence and social skills.

Our ethos is characterised by high expectations and aspirations for all pupils. All staff are committed to achieving high standards for all pupils in order that they can attain the highest levels of achievement and personal development. Myself and leaders at all levels base their actions on an accurate understanding of our performance data. As a result, the quality of teaching and pupils’ progress is an improving trend.


I liked that the lead assessor programme gave myself and the teaching team the opportunity to discuss and share ideas with other professionals across the country from various different contexts


Having dedicated time to discuss ideas and share best practice has been amazing and also given the staff team at Brownlow focussed time to share ideas and reflect on our own practice.


Benefit and impact of taking the course

The course enabled teachers to have dedicated time to focus on assessment. Taking part in this programme provided a range of benefits to our school, staff and pupils such as the opportunity for leaders and teachers to pause and reflect and to ensure that as a school we had in place efficient, valid and reliable processes to measure and record our pupils’ attainment. Improved self-evaluation and reflection time has also been beneficial in mapping out next steps for us as a school and informed future decision-making.

It was beneficial to listen to how other sectors facilitate assessment practices also as staff from a variety of school types attended the course.


 “When the NAHT adopted the policy to work with the CIEA to encourage every school to have a Lead Assessor, I knew this was an opportunity not to be missed.”


A whole school priority of ours is to develop our assessment systems so that they give an accurate understanding of how well pupils are achieving in all the foundation subjects as pupils move through the school.


“Signing up all teaching staff to the Lead Assessor award meant that everyone had access to the six online modules including approaches to assessment, validity and reliability, standardisation and moderation, using data and leading the assessment process”


Accessing the course as a teaching team was extremely beneficial as everyone had first-hand experience to join in the discussion forums, answers questions during the live Q&A’s and also be fully immersed in the whole school assessment focus.


Find out more about the Lead Assessor Support Programme here.







Written by Julie Cheung, Headteacher, Brownlow Fold Primary School
Date: 14 February 2023