As part of the National Curriculum reforms the system of National Curriculum levels was removed and will not be replaced. This change gave schools the ‘freedom’ to track the progress that their students make in accordance with their own curriculum. This change takes place against a broader set of changes in terms of KS3 and KS4 curriculum provision and examination:
- GCSEs becoming harder
- The transition of letter grades to numerical grades
- Schools no longer being judged on the 5A*-C measure, but on a broader measure of progress (still measured using KS2 – KS4 targets) over 8 GCSE subjects
- The intention that all students will complete an eBaccalaureate suite of subjects
This essentially means that there is no National standard way in which school’s track progress through Key Stage 3 anymore. Students will not come into year 7 with comparable tracking data from year 6 (always an issue here at Sexey’s as a result of the wide variety of schools that students come in from). The DfE sets the following provision for the schools Life After Levels tracking, that the information:
a) allows meaningful tracking of pupils towards end of key stage expectations in the new curriculum, including regular feedback to parents.
b) provides information which is transferable and easily understood and covers both qualitative and quantitative assessment.
c) differentiates attainment between pupils of different abilities, giving early recognition of pupils who are falling behind and those who are excelling.
d) is reliable and free from bias
The school has been working over the last year to put together our system which now goes live to parents through our first set of effort grades. Individual departments have been putting together assessments using their own subject specific criteria. The assessments take a ‘flightpath’ approach looking at the skills and knowledge expected from a student in order to attain their target grade at the end of year 11.
Clearly the end of year 11 is a long way off, and our staff never teach down to a target but will always look to support a student in attaining the best they can.
Students will be assessed as being in one of four groups over the course of the year:
- Beyond age-appropriate expectations in all areas.
- Knowledge and understanding: Level of conceptual understanding and interpretation is exceptional. Autonomous pursuit of knowledge is evident. Ability to develop independently.
- Communication: Accurate and appropriately academic communication, presented in a suitable form with evidence of individual style.
- Reaches average age-appropriate expectations in all areas.
- K&A: Confident and accurate application of age-appropriate knowledge and understanding. Accurate, secure and synoptic understanding of delivered content. Takes an evidence based approach to support independent ideas.
- Communication: Accurate, well-presented, task appropriate communication presented in a suitable form.
- Working towards reaching average age-appropriate expectations.
- K&A: Understanding of delivered content is displayed. Key conceptual elements are understood and can be evidenced through recall responses. Some conceptual elements understood.
- Communication: Generally accurate basic communication, potentially presented in a differentiated form.
- Focus on building foundational skills to support basic understanding.
- K&A: Grasp of basic skills evident. Knowledge acquired and presented in isolation.
- Communication: Communication is identifiable and often coherent.
These are progressive and all students will work upwards from the ‘foundation’ level over the course of the year. These criteria are linked to forecast GCSE grades and is best understood by looking at a graphical representation of the expected assessment pathway here.
Clearly these are new waters for us all and we will need a couple of sets of effort grades to give students the chance to show they are making the progress we hope and expect them to make. We will review the mechanism over the course of the year.
Subjects where students are in receipt of 3 or more hours of teaching will be having formal assessments under the new protocols every 6 weeks and these assessments will form a large part in the assignation of progress made available to parents through the half-termly effort grades.
Subjects where students are in receipt of fewer than 3 hours of teaching a fortnight will be assessed 3 times per year, in the first half-term of each new term. This is to reinforce the idea that for students, parents and teachers assessment should be used to inform better attainment, not purely as a mechanism to define prior attainment.