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Highdown School
and Sixth Form Centre

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The core purpose of assessment is to move students on in their learning in terms of their knowledge, understanding and skills. At Highdown School the two most important questions of assessment are (1) what are a student’s strengths? And (2) what does the student need to do to improve?

Assessment takes place on a range of timescales:

  • Ongoing assessment takes place during every lesson, with teachers and additional adults responding to gaps in the knowledge, understanding and skills to close these gaps. Both verbal and written feedback help inform immediate next steps.
  • Periodic assessment occurs with unit/topic/skills-based assessments, e.g. longer pieces of assessment work or end of unit tests, which help identify student’s grasp of key knowledge, understanding and skills and to identify areas for further improvement and development.
  • Summative assessment, for example examinations, which helps to measure a students’ grasp of a subject and their progress over time.

All students will have a baseline assessment of aptitude (MidYIS test) in the first term of Year 7.

We assess student’s progress in a number of different ways:

  • Questioning and observation of written, oral and practical work.
  • Monitoring of class work and marking of home learning.
  • Setting and marking assessments, tests and examinations.

Students are assessed based on examination grades in Years 10 to 13.

From September 2015 National Curriculum Levels have been removed as we move to a system of Assessment Without Levels.  More information on this can be seen in the attachments linked at the bottom of this page and/or viewing this short video:




At Highdown School, parents and carers will receive three achievement reports in each academic year. These will provide information about their son or daughter’s attendance and punctuality, their behaviour, their attainment and their attitude to learning. One of these reports in each year will be accompanied by a more detailed report from their mentor.

(a) Current attainment (Years 10-13):       

Teachers will report a grade at GCSE and A-Level based on all assessment completed at the time of the report indicating a student’s ‘working at…’ or ‘current’ attainment, e.g. 4b, 5a, C2, A*1, etc.

Teachers will also provide a fine-grade at GCSE and A-Level for current attainment:

1/a:      student is demonstrating strong knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level.

2/b:      student is demonstrating secure knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level.

3/c:      student is demonstrating some knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level.

(b) Predicted attainment  (Years 10-13):

Based on all assessment completed at the time of the report and their professional knowledge/judgement, teachers will report the sub-level or fine grade they predict students will attain at the end of the course at Key Stage 4 or post-16, respectively.

Guide to fine-grade/level for predictions –

1/a:      student will demonstrate strong knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level.

2/b:     student will demonstrate secure knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level.

3/c:     student will demonstrate some knowledge, understanding and skills at this grade or level. They are not secure
            at this grade or level.

 Current and predicted attainment will be colour-coded to indicate progress students are making towards their targets:

Green = meeting or exceeding their target.

Yellow = at GCSE/A-Level within one grade of their target. 

White = at GCSE/A-Level two or more grades below target. 

(c) Ready to learn judgement:

O         Outstanding: Student is always well prepared for learning and is proactive in their learning.

G          Good: Student is usually well prepared for, and makes positive contributions to, their learning.

RI         Requires improvement: Student is not always prepared for learning and does little more than required.

P          Poor: Student is rarely prepared for learning and lacks focus in lessons, often not completing work and/or
           displaying poor behaviour for learning.


(d) Current threshold (Years 7 to 9):

Excellence: your child should be aiming to achieve grade 8-9 at GCSE

Secure: your child should be aiming to achieve grade 6-9 at GCSE

Developing: your child should be aiming to achieve grade 4-9 at GCSE

Foundation: your child is on track to achieving at least a grade 3 at GCSE

+: If this appears alongside the current threshold then it indicates that your child is showing signs of working at the next threshold/higher standard.

(e) Current progress (Years 7 to 9):

Exceptional progress: your child is currently making excellent progress and will exceed expectations.

Good progress: your child is currently achieving well and as a result could exceed expectations.

Expected progress: your child is on track to achieve in line with expectations. This is likely to be the most common judgement.

Less than expected progress: your child is currently underachieving and not achieving in line with expectations. 

Strategies for addressing 'key areas of learning to work on next' identified on the report

Concern Key area of learning to work on next

Acquiring Language

  • Use a thesaurus to expand your vocabulary.
  • Read different types of literature, e.g. fiction and non-fiction.
  • Engage is discussion with your peers.

  • Create glossaries of new terms you hear or read.

  • Avoid making medical/dental appointments during school time.
  • Don’t take time of school for minor ailments, e.g. a cold. There is a significant correlation between attendance and achievement in education.
Behaviour for Learning
  • Concentrate and focus in lessons.
  • Make sure you have all the equipment you need to support your learning.
  • Be proactive, e.g. ask questions about the work, do some extra reading/research
  • Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
  • Be resilient in your learning, e.g. C3B4ME, to get yourself unstuck.
  •  Set yourself a target to contribute at least once a lesson.
  • Try something new each day.
  • Adopt a growth mindset – change ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can’t do this yet’.
  • Practise, practise, practise.
Exam Technique
  • Follow your teacher’s advice.
  • Practise answering questions regularly and time yourself.
  • Look at how many marks are available as a guide for how many points to make/write.
  • Read the questions carefully and BUG them [Box the command word, underline the context word(s) and glance back at the whole question to understand what it is asking]
  • Never leave a question unanswered and if you finish early read back through your answers to check for careless mistakes.
Home Learning
  • Make good use of Show My Homework to manage your time well so that you have enough time to complete your home learning.
  • Spend sufficient time on home learning so that you complete it in time. Look at your teachers’ guidance on how long to spend on the work.
  • Complete work to at least a good standard so that you submit work that you are proud of.
Knowledge Gap
  • Read through your class notes and then re-read them.
  • If you have a textbook, read through the relevant pages/chapter.
  • Use the Internet to ‘grow’ your knowledge.
  • Ask your teacher if you are unsure about the subject matter.
  • Ask a peer to borrow /take a photo of their work if you were absent for a lesson and so missed out on gaining new knowledge.
  • Make sure you have 100% attendance.
Listening Skills
  • Look at the speaker, keep your body still, wait your turn to speak (take a deep breath if you feel you are going to interrupt, don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Make use of podcasts or YouTube videos linked to the subject. You could play vocabulary bingo, where you write a list of words you think you will hear and then cross them off as they occur.
  • Mentally summarise key points from what is being spoken.
  • Take care with spellings, punctuation and grammar.
  • Use a dictionary or ask a peer if you are unsure how to spell a word or specialist term.
  • Read text carefully – don’t ignore/gloss over unknown words, find out what they mean.
  • Have a positive and growth mindset. Think about how the work will help you in the future. Small steps lead to giant leaps.
  • Think about your role models and how they would approach the topic and tasks.
  • Do the best you can do – become a master/craftsperson in all you do.
  • Rise to the challenge; don’t just give up when the going gets tough.
Practical Skills
  • Practise, practise, practise.
  • Take care and be as accurate as possible.
  • Know the different types of equipment/materials and choose these wisely for the task at hand.
  • Plan your approach and check this before going on.
Revision Technique
  • Revise actively – make notes on notes, create spider-diagrams/mind maps, create flashcards, use post-it notes, cover and recall knowledge.
  • Work with some peers and test each other.
Skills Development
  • Pay attention to any models or exemplars.
  • Be as accurate as possible.
  • Practise and refine your approach.
  • Take note of the teacher’s feedback and guidance.
Work on your EBIs
  • Keep reminding yourself of the EBIs your teacher has provided and working to improve these. These may relate to spelling corrections, redrafting work, improving work, including more detail in your work, etc. This is about having an 'Ethic of Excellence'.
Written Work
  • Make sure you spend long enough on your written work so you produce something you are proud of.
  • Take care with your spellings, punctuation and grammar.
  • Present your work as neatly as possible. Write in pen, draw in pencil and underline titles and dates.
  • Remember to check your work carefully to make sure it makes sense and any careless errors are corrected first.
  • Draft extended written work first.
  • Write in your neatest handwriting.
  • If you have been told a particular way to structure your written work, make sure you use it, e.g. PEEL in English.