Tomlinscote’s Flight Path Assessment Model
Our system has been developed following the government’s decision to remove National Curriculum levels. Since the announcement, Tomlinscote has been working to research, collaborate and design the most effective model to both assess student progress and report this to parents and students. We have developed our ‘flight path model’ and it has received a positive response from Parent Forum, staff and governors. We believe this leads to aspirational targets for students and a method so families know, ‘how their child is doing’. Most importantly, it provides up to date information so students and parents know what needs to be done for the student to make even more progress. From September 2016, this will be introduced for Years 7 and 10 and to other year groups in the future.
What follows uses the ‘new’ GCSE grading that is replacing the familiar A* to G. This uses numbers from 9 to 1 with 9 being a new higher level of performance beyond the existing A*. The familiar C grade falls between grades 4 and 5. The intention over time is that a 5 will become a ‘good pass’. Please see the comparison between the two systems below:
- What is a flight path?
In essence it is an estimate of the range of GCSE grades staff think your son or daughter should be aiming for when they take their GCSEs later in the school. Teachers have planned the curriculum to reflect the flight path expectations for each student. This is explained below.
It is important to realise that the flight path will vary between subjects.
Your child will be placed on one of three flight paths;
BLUE: For students who should be aiming for grades 7-9 in their GCSEs.
PINK: For students who should be aiming for grades 5-6 in their GCSEs.
YELLOW: For students who should be aiming for grades up to 4 in their GCSEs.
- What do the flight paths mean?
The main objective of the flight path model is to enable staff, students and parents to assess whether the appropriate progress is being made to achieve the highest possible outcomes. Projections based on attainment at Primary school tell us what grades we would expect students to be achieving at GCSE when they sit exams at the end of Year 11 through a series of checkpoints. Flight paths show what skills and/or knowledge students would be expected to have acquired, and by when, if they are to be on target to achieve those expected outcomes.
- How is the flight path for each subject decided?
This is determined by the professional judgement of our teachers. They will be informed by a variety of information. This includes the attainment scores we receive from primary schools – SATs and teacher assessment, a baseline assessment (MidYIS), ‘base-line’ assessments that departments will complete during your child’s first few weeks at Tomlinscote and national comparison information (FFT projections). For students in Year 10 it also reflects work in earlier years. This then informs staff’s professional judgement on the right level of challenge for individuals and their understanding of progress rates in their specific subject. Your son/ daughter will have been told what flight path they are on by their class teachers.
- Will my child be on the same flight path for all subjects?
There will be no requirement for students to be placed on the same flight path for all their subjects as we recognise that your child may display an aptitude and talent for specific subjects that will lead to improved outcomes.
- Can my child change flight paths?
Yes. We do however believe that our students need consistency and we will be looking to minimise flight path changes. Teachers and subject leaders will constantly monitor student performance and should the student’s performance over time indicate that a higher flight path would be beneficial, then it will be raised. It would only be in exceptional circumstances that a flight path would be lowered.
- What information is there to explain the flight paths and where can I get it?
As a school we actively encourage families to be fully engaged in their child’s learning and promote discussion between Tomlinscote and home. Departments will be making available copies of all their flightpaths and supporting information about the structure of their curriculum via the school’s website. This will provide an overview of the order subject content will be covered, the skills and knowledge students should be acquiring to be on target, and the same information for other flightpaths should students aspire to be moved onto a higher flightpath.
- How will I receive information about how my child is progressing?
Initially, you will receive a summary indicating the flightpath that your child is following in each subject. The curriculum has been divided into ‘areas of focus’. Reports will be sent home each time students complete 2 of these areas. This means you will receive 3 reports per year.
During the course of the year we plan to establish an online ‘parent portal’ where you can monitor your child’s progress against the expected outcomes for each area of focus in relation to each flightpath.
The Flightpath report will indicate how your child has performed in assessments related to the area of focus they have been studying and the expected outcomes for the flightpath your child is on for each subject. Your child’s progress in each area of focus will be reported on using one of three indicators shown below:
T+ : Your child is making above expected progress in this area of focus.
T= : Your child is making the expected amount of progress this area of focus.
T- : Your child is making below expected progress this area of focus
We encourage parents to use these reports as an opportunity to assist with your child’s learning and support us as we work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for your child. You can do this by looking at the expected outcomes for each area of focus (available on the school website), and also reviewing the feedback your child has been given in their end of unit assessments and in their books. In doing this you should not only be aware of their areas of strength (WWW) and areas for development (EBI) but also know exactly what it is your child needs to do to progress further.
- What can I do if my child is below target?
Communication is key. When a student is not making the progress we expect, this will be picked up by both the class teacher and subject leader, and will trigger appropriate intervention to support the student. Sometimes this will involve conversations with the student while on other occasions departments or a member of the Year Team may contact home to discuss underperformance and what additional support is needed. Should parents have any concerns regarding progress being made in a particular subject we strongly encourage them to contact the relevant subject leader.
- How does my child compare nationally?
When the Government signalled the end of National Curriculum levels their intention was for schools to create their own assessment systems that would suit the needs of individual schools and their students. As such, schools nationwide have been creating assessment models that vary significantly. This means that comparisons can only be made through external examinations such as GCSEs. We are confident that our Flightpath model will help our students understand what they can currently do and provide guidance as to how to make more progress. Be reassured that the Flightpaths set will continue our tradition of setting challenging targets, leading to excellent examination results for students whatever their starting points.