Parent Information > Assessment Changes

Parent Information

Assessment Changes

You may be aware that there has been a rapidly changing landscape in School Curriculum and Assessment over recent months. In 2013, The Education Secretary announced proposals for a significant reform of all GCSE qualifications. Soon after this announcement, the Government published curriculum content for the new GCSE’s in English, English Literature and Mathematics. These new qualifications were taught in schools in England for the first time from Sept 2015. During 2014 and 2015, the government also published details of the new curriculum content for most of the other GCSE subjects. These new GCSE qualifications are now being taught in England for the first time from September 2016. So that the results from the “new” reformed GCSE’s can be differentiated from the “old” style GCSE’s, the old grading system (A* to G) has been replaced with a number scale (from 9 to 1).

In addition to this, as part of the reforms to the National Curriculum, in September 2014 the government also abolished the use of National Curriculum levels. They have now left secondary schools to develop their own independent assessment frameworks in order to demonstrate student progress as they move through KS3 and KS4.

Although these changes have left many schools in turmoil about how to assess student progress, we see this as an exciting opportunity to introduce a new assessment system throughout the school. We hope that this new system will provide students and parents with a much clearer overview of progress in each subject as they move through KS3 into KS4 and that progress towards highly aspirational KS4 targets can be monitored very closely.

  Progress Grid

What these changes mean for students at Northfield School

Students in Year 11 are now following the new GCSE qualifications in English, English Literature and Mathematics. Therefore, they will be assessed using the new “number” grading system in these subjects. However, they will also still be following many courses in the “old” style GCSE qualifications. These subjects will continue to be assessed using the existing grades; A* to G. When Year 11 students leave Northfield in the Summer of 2017, they will be awarded a mixture of grades; A* to G for the “old style” GCSE courses, as well as the new “numbered” grades 9 to 1 for English, English Literature and Maths.

Students in Year 10 are now following new style GCSE qualifications in a number of subjects. However, they are following the “old” style GCSE’s in subjects such as Business, CiDA, Engineering, Graphics, Health & Social Care, ICT, Product Design, Textiles etc. They will therefore leave Northfield in the Summer of 2018 with a mixture of grades (A* to G) for the legacy GCSE’s and grades (9 to 1) for the new GCSE courses that they are following.

Students in Year 7, 8 and 9 will all be following the new style GCSE qualifications when they are in Year 10 and 11. This will mean that when they leave Northfield, all their qualifications will be graded on the new 9 to 1 scale.

Now that the National Curriculum levels have been abolished, we are taking this opportunity to grade ALL students in years 7, 8 and 9, against the new GCSE grading system. We think that this will provide a much clearer picture of progress towards a final GCSE grade and will also show whether or not a student is “on track” to achieve their true GCSE potential.

In order to show how confidently a student has “mastered” the skills required to achieve a particular assessment grade, we have decided to divide each of the grades; e.g. G4- G4 and G4+. However, when a student sits their final examinations, they will just be awarded the “raw” grade from the examination boards; e.g. “G4”.

How do we set aspirational targets for students?

Every student has a KS2 Average Fine Level, which is calculated from their test results in KS2 English and Maths. Each year, the Government will publish an “Attainment Estimate” table, which will show the expected GCSE grade that each student is “expected” to achieve by the end of Y11, based on their prior attaniment at KS2. This estimate will be shown on the student reports as a “Government Attainment Estimate”.

However, as we have high expectations for students at Northfield, we have set a more aspirational Y11 target. This appears on the report as “Northfield Minimum Expected Grade”, or “MEG”. This, initially, will be set 1 full grade above the Governments “Attainment Estimate” and will give students and parents an indication of what we are expecting from our students. As students progress through the school, some may find that by the end of year 10 (or even year 9) they are already close to their Y11 “MEG”. The “Y11 MEG Grade” will therefore be revised regularly in order to show “our expectations” for that particular student. The “Government Attainment Estimate” will not change a great deal, but it may be adjusted slightly in the light of updates to the latest Attainment Estimates which will be published, by the government, each year.

Where are we now?

Year 11 students will be assessed using grades in most subjects, but will be assessed using the new grading system in English, English Literature and Maths.

Year 10 students will be assessed using a mixture of grades and numbers, depending on whether they are following a “new style” GCSE, or one of the older courses.

Year 8 and Year 9 students will continue to be assessed using the new style number grading system. This makes it much easier to show whether or not a student is “on track” to reach their true potential by the end of Year 11. If you have not already done so, please refer to the “Progress Tracking Grid”, and watch the short video, explaining how it can be used to show progress.

Year 7 students will also be assessed on the new GCSE grading system, but as many students in Year 7 may find it difficult to demonstrate the required GCSE skills when they are only in Year 7, we have introduced a series of “P” grades. These grades will range from P1 through to P3. Once a student has demonstrated the required understanding and skills required to move to the GCSE scale, they will “graduate” from the “P” (primary) scale onto the GCSE scale.

As we introduce this new assessment system, there are bound to be many questions. We will, of course, keep you up to date with the latest developments and answer all the questions that I am sure you will have. Please log in to Frog to access all the latest assessment reports, attendance and other useful information for your child.

I hope that this short summary helps you to understand our new assessments process, and we look forward to developing a close working dialogue with you over the coming months to ensure that we have a system that is informative and useful for us all.

Yours sincerely

N. D. Wills
Assistant Headteacher