Assessing Our Year 11 and Year 13 Students

Dear Parent / Carer

This is a ‘touch base’ letter to outline where the school is at in our preparation for assessing our Year 11 and Year 13 students.

The Prime Minister has announced that Monday 8th March is the date that he hopes the reopening of schools can  commence, subject to the data and if the target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by 15th  February is achieved. What the reopening will look like has yet to be determined, so we need to plan for both remote and in-school learning.

The Ofqual consultation came to a close on Friday 29th January. There were 100,597 responses, with nearly 47,000 coming from young people due to take their exams this year. The outcome of this consultation will not be known until Monday 22nd February. We do know that the grades that the examination boards will award students will be based on teacher assessment.

The Priory School has an excellent record of assessing the levels students are working at. There are a number of reasons why this is the case:

  1. The Year 11 and 6th Form pastoral teams and teachers know their students inside out and what they are capable of achieving;
  2. The school has a team of highly experienced Heads of Department who know the examination syllabi;
  3. A number of our teachers work for the examination boards as markers and some hold responsibility for setting exam papers and they have an excellent insight into the standards required to achieve specific levels;
  4. The school has rigorous quality assurance procedures when assessing student levels. These are reviewed by Heads of Department and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) link to that curriculum area and finally though SLT analysis meetings.

Although the summer exam series for 2021 has been cancelled, we will be able to give the examination boards an accurate assessment of where each student is at.

We are currently finalising a roadmap for how we move forward in gathering relevant assessment evidence, reporting student progress and ensuring we can maintain high-quality student engagement. The aim is to share a more detailed document with you by the end of this week.

The key areas we are addressing are:

  1. A review of where each subject has got to in teaching their syllabus and what was taught online and
    in school;
  2. The frequency of formal assessments to inform working-at levels;
  3. A blended assessment approach that combines open-book and closed-book assessments to reflect where learning is taking place;
  4. The development of student subject portfolios to allow for internal moderation and external verification;
  5. Redesigning our reporting process and frequency of reporting so that there is a clear understanding of where a student is at with regards to engagement with learning and working grades.
  6. Looking at strategies that will support student engagement in the coming months.

Our TPS roadmap will need to be updated based on the outcomes of the Ofqual consultation and again when students start back at school. Whenever there is a change required you will be notified by the school.

The challenges that our young people face this year are great but not unsurmountable. There will be times where there are setbacks, but as Nelson Mandela said:

‘Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.’

We sometimes forget how resilient young people are and the responsibility they take on their shoulders to ensure they progress on to the next chapter of their learning journey. We need to work collectively to support them in achieving their goals no matter what their next destination is. The key message to our young people is that every piece of work done plays a part in building up the evidence base that we will use to make a professional judgment on what we pass on to the examination boards.

Kind regards

Geraint Edwards