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KS3 and KS4 Assessment

Our Intent

The Hayfield School is committed to the acquisition of high quality, accurate assessment and progress information for use by staff, students and parents. We believe its use is central in order to sustain and improve academic achievement for all students of all abilities.   We are committed to keeping parents/carers regularly informed as to the progress of their child via tri-annual reports and annual PTC evening.

What does assessment look like at The Hayfield School?

We are aware that students perform differently in different types of scenario and wish to give all students a chance to demonstrate to us what they can do at their best.  We are also aware that assessment can lead to pressure and anxiety. As a result we have sought to balance these factors with the need to assess our students and prepare them for the inevitable examinations they will face.  We don’t assess our students for the sake of it, rather to ensure that they have deliberately practiced and developed the type of skills required to achieve their personal best.  We also assess them to help us identify strengths and areas for development and in this respect we encourage our students to think of assessment for learning as opposed to assessment of their learning.

Departments are therefore expected to implement a blended approach towards assessment that includes a range of different types of assessment.  Some of these assessments are untimed, low pressure and more ‘formative’.  They lead to suggestions for improvement and refinement by the teacher, with time allocated for students to undertake this. Other forms of assessment are more summative and lead to a mark and/or a grade.  These can take the form of low stakes knowledge tests/quizzes that yield a mark, as well as more high stakes unseen and timed tests that replicate examination conditions and lead to a mark and a grade.

Types of assessment

Knowledge Tests

The questions should be drawn from the pool of core knowledge taught to students. They should also be iterative.  This means questions should re-visit key information from previous units of work to ensure long term factual retention.   They should result in the award of a mark, but not a grade – they are to be deliberately designed to be ‘low stakes’ and not contribute directly to a grade decision because their format does not replicate that of an examination.  The value of regular low stakes testing and regular iterative revisiting has long since been proven by research in terms of aiding long term factual retention.  The inclusion of entry quizzes, multiple choice brain in gear activities and in lesson quiz type plenaries is therefore encouraged in addition to the knowledge tests.

STEP Assessments

These are deliberately highly supported and scaffolded in order to aid students in delivering their highest quality work possible – this builds student confidence and establishes the techniques and neural pathways required to succeed independently later.  The task set may mirror an examination style task, or be adapted in an engaging way to replicate the skills required to succeed in one.  Extensive support should be provided in the form of scaffolding, writing frames, lists of essential content, exemplary work, plus success criteria.  They need not be strictly timed, nor result in a mark or grade – the emphasis should be purely on feedback that students engage with. They should be ‘deep marked’ and the aim should be to produce a high quality piece of work from which strengths and areas of knowledge/skills for improvement can be identified, before the work is further refined and improved.   The following code should be used to feedback on these assessments:

(S) Strengths
Identify at least one area of success within the work
(T) Targets
Identify at least one area for improvement within the work
(E) Engage
Provide a follow on task/instruction that requires the student to revisit and refine the work
(P) Progress
Acknowledge their refinement – a follow up sticker, stamp, comment or reward. Record an engagement based 1-4 AtL (see below).

STEP assessment AtL (Attitude to Learning) descriptors

Departmental success criteria met, high level of engagement, resulting in a brilliant piece of work at or above the expected level of their ability. Very effectively communicated (very neat, error free), high levels of interest in the task throughout and high levels of willingness to refine and improve the work. All teacher feedback has been acted upon and the use of departmentally provided scaffolds and resources is evident.
Departmental success criteria met, clear evidence of engagement, complete, commensurate with the level of their ability. Effectively communicated (neat, few errors), clear evidence of interest in the task and perseverance in refining the work, clear engagement with teacher feedback and suggestions acted upon. Clear use of departmentally provided scaffolds and supporting resources.
Requires Improvement
Departmental success criteria partly met, some engagement with the task, could be complete but below expected standard for their level ability, or vice versa. Not communicated very well (not neat, many errors), some evidence of interest and perseverance in completing the task & refining the work, a little engagement with teacher feedback and action in terms of teacher advice. Some use of the departmentally provided supporting resources.
Departmental success criteria not met, reluctant to ‘have a go’ i.e. tokenistic initial engagement with the assessed task, probably incomplete, well below expected standard for their level of ability, poorly communicated (messy, error filled), little evidence that they have been ‘interested and hungry to know more’, little perseverance in completing the task & refining the work, no engagement with teacher feedback and reluctant to accept/act on improvement advice. Few of the departmentally provided scaffolds, facts, key terms, or supporting resources have been used.

Unseen timed assessments

These are more formal, high stakes, timed assessments.  They result in a mark and a grade that is recorded and contributes to the grade on student reports.  They should be undertaken in timed conditions.  Students should be made aware of upcoming unseen timed assessments (allow at least a week), so that they may prepare and revise.  The unseen nature of these assessments requires teacher’s not to share the exact question(s) with students.  They can be told the paper, unit or general topic area and also the question type (e.g. ‘strand’) as appropriate to the subject.  Internal examinations count as one of the unseen timed assessments required from departments.  Students will be formally examined once per year at Key Stage 3.

How often are students assessed?

Departments are expected to assess students at centrally determined frequencies.   The requirements are summarised in the table below and are dependent upon how many hours of curriculum time students receive:

Assessment Type
Subject 2hrs+
Subject 1hr
Summative or Formative?
Mark needed?
Grade needed?
Knowledge tests
Unseen timed