Knowledge Bank - Leadership

Pupil progress in Key Stage 1

This has long been a ‘challenge’ and never more so as a result of Sir Michaels Wilshaw’s crusade and impact on the latest Ofsted Framework for the Evaluation of schools.

The focus is definitively on school’s proving progress. Whilst schools in ‘less advantaged’ areas have long argued for a focus on progress – because of the significant challenge of meeting and exceeding national averages for attainment – the accountability for progress is now the most significant factor integral to all key judgements. This point is evident in guidance from Maria Dawes, HMI Principal Framework Development Officer:

“There is no fixed format for an ‘outstanding lesson’. What matters is great progresses. Ask how much have they learnt? What progress have they made and why? What helped them do that?”

“A school making exceptional progress can get outstanding even if it does not get above ‘floor standards’ on attainment. You have to get below ‘floor’ on progress as well as attainment to ‘fail”

Changes to the curriculum  – current and future:

  • The new curriculum in place for the Early Years (Development Matters) enables schools to assess ability on entry and at the end of the year, but measures of progress within the year have been removed. Consequently, and privately, Ofsted inspectors, alongside schools, are struggling with numerical evidence of progress. Whilst the emphasis on identifying lower, middle and upper abilities( through attainment) is useful to a degree, and should/will be used to inform expectations of progress and attainment across the primary phase, this does not assist measurement of progress within the year in order to inform teaching and learning.
  • A new, already delayed, curriculum is to be introduced for primary phase schools, with changes to Key Stages 3 and 4 as well. Early indications are that assessment of progress and attainment in this curriculum will focus on identification of the lower, middle and upper abilities (through attainment) and to a single level, rather than sub levels.

So, whilst the powers that be have grasped the usefulness of APP tracking (low, secure, high) to inform teaching, learning and progress, they appear to be struggling with how to also ensure that teachers and pupils, as well as Ofsted inspectors, have the finer measures by which to ascertain achieved learning and pace of progress. Yet Ofsted continues to require numerical data to prove this. Therefore, at this time, advice to schools has to be based on the current and anticipated picture.


  • Schools need to have a secure and shared understanding of expectations of progress applicable to each key stage, and to set this within the context of:
    • National averages of progress and attainment which are rising, and schools need to judge themselves against these.
    • Differences in rates of progress, with accelerated progress being an expectation for the more able and to address any identified underachievement.
    • Schools need to identify what they want and need to know from their tracking systems and make these accessible and understood by teachers as well as leaders.
      • Agree ‘Core groups’ that reflect the school’s context.
      • Identify data led groups, resulting from analysis of transitional data.
      • For each ‘externally published’ subject area e.g. in primary phase reading, writing, mathematics, science, agree data to be used from entry to the school.
      • Use the school’s own agreed Levels and APS guide to evaluate progress and set end of year and key stage expectations. NB this is in addition to FFT/Raiseonline end of key stage expectations as the school’s data allows them to take into account ‘accelerated’ progress for more able and underachievers.

       Assessing Pupil Progress. Case Study: St Michael’s CofE Primary, Steventon, Oxfordshire.

      St Michael’s is a small village primary school, with 130 pupils on roll. There are six classes, including a Foundation Stage class. Most pupils are white British. 5% have Free School Meals. 13% are on the SEN register, 5 of whom have statements.

      Source: ‘Leading Assessment in Your School’ by Ann O’Hara, Director, School Improvement Services Ltd

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