Exam and Assessment Information
Approach to Assessment
Quality assessment relies on the fact that the curriculum is thoroughly understood, appropriately constructed and planned; judicious testing will provide information about a pupil’s journey through the curriculum and support teachers to tailor teaching, interventions and future assessments.
- Assessments therefore need to measure progress through the taught curriculum
- Where possible, assessments are common across a cohort and between Nishkam schools
- Assessments need to build to cumulative examinations at the end of a year, so that students are able to recall knowledge, facts, concepts, practise and apply skills from across the curriculum they have been taught, rather than simply the last unit
- Progress is measured from prior attainment; the trajectory of progress goes from milestone to milestone: EYFS to KS1, KS1 to KS2
- Common assessments are used to provide an indication of progress and attainment in between the aforementioned milestones
- Common assessments are also reviewed diagnostically to inform planning, teaching and future assessments.
Dame Alison Peacock: ‘There are three key pillars of education: pedagogy, curriculum and assessment…Great assessment enables both children and teachers to understand what has been learnt and identifies specific areas where misconceptions have occurred or where more practice is needed. Assessment that is used formatively, actively informs pedagogy.’
Low stakes vs high stakes assessments
Testing is the most secure way of measuring a student’s progress. A curriculum planned well contains a variety of different assessments to measure learner’s progress through the curriculum. Assessments can diagnose what learners can and can’t do and therefore, crucially, informs future planning and teaching. The cycle between assessment, planning and teaching is a crucial component in ensuring effective lessons and learning. Pupils are part of this process and will be encouraged to respond to feedback.
All teaching staff:
- have a secure overview of the starting points (including prior attainment), progress and context of all students
- ensure marking is primarily formative using the school model to identify what has been achieved - ‘You can, you are not yet able to...’ - with clear, precise and actionable targets given to help students to make further progress
- regularly give feedback; students should receive regular written and verbal feedback to help them reflect on and understand their achievements and areas to work on
- engage in learning dialogues with students as it is crucial to involve learners in their own learning and development
- allow and build in time for students to respond to feedback given
- deliver, mark and feedback on a key assessment task once per term to help the student and teacher gauge what has and has not been learnt and understood. The nature and type of assessment will be dependent on the subject and place within the curriculum plan
- implement the marking codes as well as the school’s feedback model in all lessons
- plan in regular knowledge reviews where relevant
Assessment in the Primary Phase
Assessment in Reception
At the start of the year, pupils will be assessed through the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA). The RBA is a statutory assessment and provides a snapshot of where pupils are when they arrive at school. It will provide a starting point to measure the progress schools make with their pupils between reception and the end of primary school. Schools do not receive the outcome of the RBA as the data is submitted directly to the Department of Education.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Profile is used to track pupil’s development and achievement throughout the Reception year. The EYFS Profile is broken down into seven specific areas of learning:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Understanding of the world
- Expressive arts and design
Within each of these areas, there are specific Early Learning Goals (ELGS) e.g. in the case of Communication and language, these are Listening, Attention and Understanding, and Speaking. Pupils’ will be given an achievement level for each area of learning.
Assessment is ongoing throughout the EYFS, but the end of year statutory assessment for each pupil is completed in the final term of Reception. For each of the ELGs, pupils’ will be given one of the following gradings:
- Expected: your child is working at the level expected for their age
- Emerging: your child hasn't quite reached the age-expected level yet
On leaving the Foundation Stage at the end of Reception, a pupil is considered to have a ‘good level of development’ (GLD) if they have achieved at least the expected level in the Early Learning Goals in all aspects of Personal, Social and Emotional, Physical development, Communication and Language, Literacy and Mathematics.
If a pupil is working below the level expected for their age, the school will focus on helping them catch up with their peers as they move into Year 1.
Assessment standards in Key Stage 1 and 2
Pupils’ progress in Key Stage 1 and 2 in reading, writing and maths is continuously assessed by using a set of three standards as follows:
- Greater Depth
- Working Towards
In year 1 to year 5, attainment in these standards is based on teacher assessment. In year 6, pupils sit end of Key Stage 2 statutory assessment tests, which are marked and graded externally.
Statutory Assessments In Key Stage 1 and 2
Year 1- Phonics Screening Check
All year 1 pupils will take a test to assess their phonics abilities. The test is designed to see if pupils have learnt phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard.
What happens during the Phonics Screening Check?
Each test contains 40 words. The test is carried out one-to-one between teacher and pupil. The pupil must read out each word to their teacher. The 40 words contain 20 real words and 20 pseudo words (alien or nonsense words). The test usually takes around 10 minutes for each pupil and they will be given a score of between 0 and 40.
How is the phonics check reported on?
The government provides a yearly threshold mark (or pass standard). The pass standard is usually around 32 or 33. The Phonics Screening Check is not about passing or failing; its main function is to check that pupils are making adequate progress. If a pupil does not reach the expected standard, then the child may be required to re-take the test in year 2.
Year 2- Key Stage 1 Standard Assessment Tests
At the end of year 2, pupil take SATs in:
The reading test for year 2 pupils is made up of two separate papers:
- Paper 1 consists of a selection of texts totalling 400 to 700 words, with questions interspersed
- Paper 2 comprises a reading booklet of a selection of passages totalling 800 to 1100 words. Pupils will write their answers in a separate booklet
Each paper is worth 50 per cent of the marks, and should take around 30 minutes, but pupils are not strictly timed, as the tests are not intended to assess pupil’s ability to work at speed. The texts in the reading papers cover a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and get progressively more difficult towards the end of the test.
The maths test is made up of two papers:
- Paper 1: arithmetic, worth 25 marks and taking around 15 minutes.
- Paper 2: mathematical fluency, problem-solving and reasoning, worth 35 marks and taking 35 minutes, with a break if necessary.
Pupils are not allowed to use any tools such as calculators or number lines.
Year 4- Multiplication Tables Check
A formal test of multiplication skills takes place in the summer term of year 4. Under the National Curriculum, pupils are supposed to know their times tables by the end of year 4.
The purpose of the Check is to determine whether year 4 pupils can recall their multiplication tables fluently (being able to answer times tables questions accurately and quickly, without having to work out the answers). Pupils will be tested using an on-screen check (on a computer or a tablet, where they will have to answer multiplication questions against the clock. Once the pupil has inputted their answer on the computer/device they are using, there will be a three-second pause before the next question appears. Pupils will be given the opportunity to practise answering questions in this format before the official check begins.
There will be no "pass mark" (expected standard threshold) and no pupil will "fail" the test. The main function of the Check is to track that pupils are making adequate progress. Pupils' individual results will be made available to schools and will be reported to parents.
Year 6- Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests
At the end of Year 6, pupils in England sit tests in:
The reading test is a single paper with questions based on three passages of text. Pupils will have one hour, including reading time, to complete the test.
Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling (GPS)
The GPS test consists of two parts: a grammar and punctuation paper requiring short answers, lasting 45 minutes, and an aural spelling test of 20 words, lasting around 15 minutes.
Pupils sit three papers in maths:
- Paper 1: arithmetic, 30 minutes
- Papers 2 and 3: reasoning, 40 minutes per paper
These tests are both set and marked externally, and the results are used to measure the school’s performance. Your child’s marks will be used in conjunction with teacher assessment to give a broader picture of their attainment.
In 2020 and 2021 KS2 SATs did not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Primary school SATs results will not be published in national league tables until 2023 to reflect the disruption to children's learning.
NTS Standardised Assessments
At the end of each term pupils in Year 2 to Year 5 (Year 1 in the summer term only) sit a standardised reading and maths assessment. Content and test demand builds cumulatively term-by-term and the format of the assessment mirrors the National Test-style papers, with content sampled from the current year’s curriculum and also the years below.
This allows teachers to accurately and effectively track progress alongside their teacher assessments. Assessment data is for internal purposes only.
Assessment in the Secondary Phase
The Nishkam Thresholds for Key Stage 3 Assessment
Pupils’ progress in Key Stage 3 is continuously assessed by using a set of four ‘Thresholds’, which in descending order are as follows:
‘Working Towards’ is also used to describe the progress of pupils who have not yet reached the Foundation threshold.
Based on strong evidence from across three years’ worth of data, the thresholds roughly correlate with the following GCSE grades in the long-term:
- Excellent: Grades 8-9
- Secure: Grades 6-7
- Developing: Grade 5
- Foundation: Grades 1-4
The most beneficial aspect of measuring progress through our thresholds is that the discussion we have with pupils and parents revolves around key points of learning rather than a grade or a number. In our view, this is the best possible preparation for GCSE.
If you have any further questions about the thresholds, please ask your son / daughter’s class teachers.
Key Assessment Tasks (KATs)
At the end of each term pupils sit summative assessments known as KATs. These are very much in the style of GCSE and A Level linear assessment and so prepare pupils for the challenges that lie ahead. Pupils’ performance on the KATs is represented by a threshold, as explained above.
KAT1 is the pupils’ end of term exam result for the autumn term
KAT2 is the pupils’ end of term exam result for the spring term
KAT3 is the pupils’ summative, end of year exam, which includes content from across their whole year’s work
When pupils start in Year 7, they complete GL Cognitive Ability Tests (CAT 4) and Progress Tests (PT11) in English, Mathematics and Science. These are completed on-line. GL is the leading provider of formative assessments to schools across the UK and around the world. This data is then used as a benchmark and pupils progress in these subjects can then be tracked and monitored across Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9).
At the end of Year 7 pupils will then complete another set of Progress Tests (PT12) in English and Mathematics. This will allow us to assess the progress made by each child in Year 7. Once the tests have been completed, reports will be sent home to parents and carers.
Pupils will also complete GL reading and spelling tests, each term. As well as the STAR reader programme each half term.
Pupils in Year 7 complete 3 Key Assessment Tasks (KAT’s), one at end of each term. These are summative assessments in the style of GCSE assessments and assessed internally by their subject teacher. They will be graded, and awarded one of the four ‘Thresholds’- Excellent, Secure, Developing and Foundation. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of each term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’.
Pupils in Year 8 complete 3 Key Assessment Tasks (KAT’s), one at end of each term. These are summative assessments in the style of GCSE assessments and assessed internally by their subject teacher. They will be graded and awarded one of the four ‘Thresholds’- Excellent, Secure, Developing and Foundation. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of each term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’.
Pupils in Year 8 also complete the STAR Reader programme each half term.
At the end of Year 8 pupils will complete another set of Progress Tests (PT13) in English, Mathematics and Science. This will allow us to assess and monitor the progress made by each child in these subject areas since Year 7. Once the tests have been completed, reports will be sent home to parents and carers.
Pupils in Year 9 complete 3 Key Assessment Tasks (KAT’s), one at end of each term. These are summative assessments in the style of GCSE assessments and assessed internally by their subject teacher. They will be graded and awarded one of the four ‘Thresholds’- Excellent, Secure, Developing and Foundation. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of each term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’.
Pupils in Year 8 also complete the STAR Reader programme each half term
At the end of Year 9 pupils will complete another set of Progress Tests (PT14) in English, Mathematics and Science. This will allow us to assess and monitor the progress made by each child in these subject areas since Year 7 and across Key Stage 3. Once the tests have been completed, reports will be sent home to parents and carers.
Pupils in Year 10 complete 3 Key Assessments Tasks (KAT’s), one at the end of each term. Year 10 KAT 1 is completed in class at the end of the Autumn Term. These tests are GCSE questions which are then marked and moderated by the department. Pupils will then be awarded a GCSE Garde 9-1 or Vocational Grade. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of the term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’. Throughout the term and year pupils will also complete smaller interim KAT’s and/or topic tests for each subject.
Year 10 KAT 2 and 3 are completed in the Sports Hall and are full length exam papers, which are marked and moderated internally. These are completed in line with JCQ and Exam board requirements to help pupils prepare for the exams they will sit at the end of Year 11. Once again pupils will be awarded a GCSE Garde 9-1 or Vocational Grade. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of each term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’.
In Year 10, there is also the opportunity for pupils to be entered for and for and complete their qualification in GCSE Punjabi early.
Any pupils completing a vocational course in either BTEC Enterprise, CTECH Sports Studies or WJEC Hospitality and Catering will complete and submit one of their internally assessed units.
For more information on each of the subject areas offered at Year 10 please our GCSE Options page on our website.
Pupils in Year 11 complete 2 Key Assessments Tasks (KAT’s), one at the end of the Autumn Term and the other at the end of the Spring Term. These are full length exam papers which will be marked and moderated internally. Both KAT’s are completed in line with JCQ and Exam board requirements. Pupils will be awarded a GCSE Garde 9-1 or Vocational Grade. These grades are reported to parents and carers at the end of each term as well as a grade for the pupils ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and ‘Homework’. Throughout the term and year pupils will also complete smaller interim KAT’s and/or topic tests for each subject.
Any pupils completing a vocational course in either BTEC Enterprise or CTECH Sports Studies will complete and submit their second internally assessed unit in January.
Any pupils completing a vocational course in either BTEC Enterprise, CTECH Sports Studies or WJEC Hospitality and Catering will sit their exam unit in January for that subject.
Pupils will then sit their final GCSE exams in the May and June. These will last approximately 5 weeks and are conducted in line with JCQ requirements. Results for these exams will then be issued in August.