Progress and Assessment at St. Mary's

Last updated 25/01/2019

OUR Core Principles of Assessment

Our assessment system at St Mary’s is based on the following core principles:

  1. Assessment is formative: it is used to inform next steps in teaching and learning.

  2. Assessment is based on the detailed understanding teachers have of what enables pupils to make progress in the subjects that they study.

  3. Assessment identifies gaps in knowledge and understanding, and allows us to support our pupils is overcoming those gaps and to celebrate success.

  4. Reporting to parents and carers is simple and clear: it should help pupils understand how to make progress.

How we set targets

We have high expectations for all our pupils, and set targets for them to make sure that pupils have a clear idea of what they can achieve, and what pathways are open to them.  They also allow teachers to plan for stretch and challenge.  We share targets with pupils and parents from early in year 7, using the language of a growth mindset.

Using Key Stage 2 test scores, and other baseline assessment information, we set targets for the end of Key Stage 4, based on GCSE grades.

These targets aim to ensure that all our pupils make progress that is better than the national average for pupils with an equivalent starting point.  In other words, our pupils are set targets that are challenging, but appropriate to their ability. 

How we assess

All subjects are different, and so the way we assess varies from subject to subject.  What all subjects have in common is that assessments form part of a long-term plan to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, and to prepare them for the demands of the GCSE and other qualifications offered at the end of y11. 

Assessment is essentially formative.  This means that when teachers assess, whether by setting a test or asking a question in class, the main purpose is to check that a pupil has understood, and is ready to move on to the next step in learning.  Subject teachers have identified mastery steps in their subjects: the knowledge and skills that pupils need to master before moving on to the next steps.

Assessment takes place continuously, both within and outside lessons, and takes many forms. These include:

  • Baseline assessments

  • CAT testing: standardized cognitive ability tests

  • Question and response in lessons using a wide range of techniques

  • High-frequency skill and knowledge testing or quizzes

  • Peer assessment

  • Pre-public examinations (PPEs): annual formal written examinations

  • Controlled assessment or coursework for some qualifications

How we report

We keep parents and carers informed about their child’s progress in the following ways:

  • Parents’ evening

  • End-of-year report

  • Pupil progress data three times per year

In Years 7 and 8, the pupil progress data we send home contains the following information:

  • GCSE target grade

  • Progress on-track indicator for each subject

  • Attitude to learning grade for each subject

  • Attendance information

  • Achievement and behaviour points

The on track indicator shows whether the pupil is making the progress necessary, at each stage and in each subject, to meet their target.  The target is a GCSE grade

In Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11, the information includes

  • GCSE target grade

  • GCSE or technical progress grade for each subject

  • PPE (trial exam) grade where relevant

  • Attitude to learning grade for each subject

  • Attendance information

  • Achievement and behaviour points

The progress grade is a 9-1 grade for GCSE subjects and a Distinction/ Merit/Pass grade for technical subjects.  Based on a range of current evidence it shows a pupil’s current working level.

What does progress look like at St Mary’s?

Following the introduction of new GCSE qualifications, and the development of new schemes of work in each subject to prepare pupils for these new qualifications, we are publishing detailed information on what progress looks like in each different subject.

Subject progress plans for each individual subject in Year 7 and 8 have been published on our website.  During 2018-19 we will gradually add plans for Years 9 to 11.  Their purpose is to give a detailed picture of what progress looks like in each subject.  They show the mastery steps required to make good progress in learning.  Subject progress plans are designed to be read in conjunction with the pupil progress data that is sent home 3 times per year. 

The subject progress plans are divided into 4 rows.  Each row represents a different starting point (identified by key stage 2 test scores) and a different GCSE target, and describes the mastery steps necessary at that level.

If a pupil is on track, then they will be working at the level indicated in the row corresponding to their target grade.

If a pupil is below target, then they will be working in line with the descriptors in the row below their target grade.  To get back on track, they need to address those areas – and start working to master the knowledge and skills in the row above.

In conjunction with the attitude to learning grade, this information gives a detailed picture of how pupils are performing in each subject, and, most importantly, where they need to focus their efforts if they are not on track.


You can find a more detailed explanation of the elements of our assessment strategy, along with further examples of the types of assessment used every day in school, in our assessment policy.

Assessment Policy