The Ruth Gorse Academy is an integral part of The GORSE Academies Trust, and as such benefits from its strong relationship with The Morley Academy and The Farnley Academy, both of which are OFSTED Outstanding. The assessment policies used at The Ruth Gorse Academy are those used at our partner schools, and as such we are confident that we will reap the benefits of their experience in the area of student assessment and tracking.

The unique status of The Ruth Gorse Academy within the Trust, as a free-school established in 2014, means that assessment has had to be innovative. We are committed to developing bespoke assessment solutions to monitoring and assessing the progress made by our students. This makes us more than a passive partner in The Gorse Academies Trust, and the experience and systems we have developed since opening have driven improvements and assessment evolution across the Trust. The nature of our partnership is genuine and sharing.

Target-Setting

Target-setting is the starting point for our assessment protocols. We take KS2 data and use it to set challenging and aspirational targets for our students in all years. This system is used by all the academies in the Trust and has been refined over a decade of sustained improvement at our partner academies. This matches our ethos of excellence and striving for the very best from our students.

At the start of the academic year, students are set two targets. A Minimum Expected Grade (MEG) and an Achievable Target Grade (ATG). The MEG is the grade a student is should achieve by the end of the academic year to ensure they are on the right track to achieve well by the end of Year 11, whereas the ATG is the aspirational target the student is set to motivate them further. This is set for every student by the Senior Assistant Principal using the national dataset of GCSE results provided by the Fischer Family Trust (FFT). Targets grades are reviewed at the start of each academic year taking into account the progress made by students in the previous year.

Assessment

Assessment takes on a number of guises at The Ruth Gorse Academy and throughout the Trust. It can be in the form of homework or classwork (in particular work students complete independently in the Purple Zone) or through more formal Iterative Tests that take place at regular intervals throughout the academic year. Teachers gather a range of evidence for each student at three points during the academic year to award them a current working grade (or Assessment Point grade).  This is recorded alongside an Attitude to Learning grade, which summarises a student’s behaviour for learning both in and outside the classroom.

The close partnership work established through a range of cross-Trust partnership meetings ensures that Curriculum Leaders can share and disseminate materials used to award grades. This allows us to make meaningful comparisons about the progress made by students.

Iterative Tests and mock examinations have been centrally produced within the Trust by the partnership work of key middle leaders. These exams are standardised during partnership meetings, in order to set grade boundaries and ensure that mark schemes are used consistently. Following examinations, samples are moderated by curriculum teams from across the Trust in order to ensure the quality of marking and accuracy of assessment. This allows attainment and progress of the students to be compared across all secondary academies, and areas for improvement or where support is required to be identified. By using this rigorous assessment process, we can guarantee that the work of students of The Ruth Gorse Academy is in line with that of other students across the city.

There are two significant changes that have taken place nationally and we at The Ruth Gorse Academy have also adapted our assessment system to compliment these.

  • GCSE specifications changing, and grade awarded from 9 – 1 (instead of A* – G)

    • This will affect all students in Years 7 to 11.
    • KS4 students studying the BTEC courses will be assessed using the Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction* assessment system.
  • Removal of National Curriculum levels at Key Stage 3

    • All schools have been asked to devise their own assessment system for students prior to GCSE.
    • We have adapted the 9 – 1 grading system to include grades a – d to indicate students who are working towards grade 1.

Each grade is divided into three subgrades –  for example, 5+, 5 and 5-.

If a student achieves grade: This indicates they have:
5+ Mastered the skills and knowledge associated with grade 5.
5 Secured the knowledge and skills associated with grade 5.
5- Developing the knowledge and skills associated with grade 5.

At each Assessment Point, students’ targets, current working grades and Attitude to Learning grades are sent home to parents and carers via post, alongside information regarding attendance, certificates and behaviour incidents. This information is also shared with students in lessons in the form of highly impactful conversations. This dialogue is recorded at the back of student planners, in their yellow assessment pages. These planner pages form a vital communication tool between the school and parents and carers; it allows students to build a record of their progress and attainment throughout the academic year.

The Assessment Points take place at specifically calendared points throughout the year in order to align the process in all TGAT schools. This allows specific assessment tasks to be used which are again standardised and moderated by Curriculum Leaders, with the quality of all work overseen by the Senior Leadership Teams across the Trust.

The Ruth Gorse Academy Contribution

The special requirement for KS3 assessment whilst The Ruth Gorse Academy was in its infancy has meant that much of the innovation in testing across the Trust has been driven from it.  The development of end of year testing (known as Masters Examinations) has been driven from here and these are now used Trust-wide.  We believe that this assessment structure is highly effective in changing and adapting to the challenges faced by a highly variable educational environment. We believe that this rigor, when applied to the work of our students, allows us to make confident projections of Progress 8, and how successful our first cohort of Year 11 students will be in the summer of 2019.