The Ruth Gorse Academy is an integral part of The GORSE Academies Trust, and as such benefits from its strong relationship with The Morley and Farnley Academies, both of which are OFSTED Outstanding academies. The assessment policies used at TRGA 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 TRGA 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 TGAT, and the experience and systems we have developed in the past three years have driven improvements and assessment evolution at Morley and Farnley also. The nature of our partnership is genuine and sharing.
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 aspirational target grade (ATG). The minimum expected grade (MEG) is the minimum grade a student is expected to achieve by the end of this academic year. Whereas the aspirational target grade (ATG) is the aspirational target the student is set to motivate them to achieving beyond the minimum expectation. This is set for every student by the Assistant Principal using the national GCSE data set for 2017. These grades are reviewed at the start of each academic year based on the progress made in the previous year.
Assessment takes on a number of guises. It can be in the form of classwork or homework that has been designed to extend learning through “The Purple Zone”. This means that we see exceptional pieces of work in all subject areas and use them to establish the level of understanding of our students. The close partnership work established through Assessment Rubric Meetings and Core Binding Meetings within the Trust, and latterly our 3-19 Partnership Meetings ensures that Directors of Faculty can share and disseminate materials used throughout the Trust. This allows us to make meaningful comparisons about the progress made on these tasks.
Assessment is more formally conducted using iterative tests and mock exams that have been centrally produced within the Trust by the partnership work of key middle leaders. These exams are standardised during Assessment Rubric Meetings, in order to set grade boundaries and ensure that alignment of teaching schemes has taken place. Following examinations, samples are moderated by Directors of Faculty from across the Trust in order to ensure the quality of marking and accuracy of assessment. This allows the Central Assessment Team to compare both attainment and progress of the students in all schools, and identify areas for improvement and where support is required with certain students or groups of students. 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 the students from our Outstanding and World Class partner academies at Morley and Farnley.
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 assessment changing from grades to number grades (9 to 1)
- This will affect all students in Year 7-10
- KS4 students studying the BTEC courses will be assessed using the Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction* assessment system
- KS4 students studying Computer Science will be assessed on the old GCSE A*-G grading system, for this academic year only
- 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
In order to fully encapsulate the progress made by the students at The Ruth Gorse Academy, we have adapted the 9-1 grading system so that students who don’t yet have the skills to access Grade 1 are still assessed accurately and awarded an assessment grade, at each assessment point. We have thereby extended the grading system at the lower end by including grades a-d.
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.|
During the year there are three Assessment Points. These are formal points at which teachers assess the current attainment of the students and discuss with them how they can progress effectively to their target grade. This information is sent out to parents via post and 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/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 Gorse schools. This allows specific assessment tasks to be used and again standardised and moderated by Directors, with the quality of all work overseen by the Senior Leadership Team in school and across the Trust.
The Ruth Gorse Academy Contribution
The special requirement for KS3 assessment at TRGA has meant that much of the innovation in testing across the Trust has been driven from it. End of Year testing (Masters Exams) has been innovated here and these are now used Trust-wide, enhancing the work of staff across these schools in South Leeds.
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 GCSE students will be in 2019.