365 days in my shoes Day 26



What do you use to narrow the gap?

In a primary school there have been many published materials and resources for both English and Maths.

ALS – Additional Literacy Support aimed at Y3/4 pupils
FLS – Further Literacy Support aimed at Y5
QUEST – developed with the character Sir Kit, a knight who was challenged with several quests

Springboard for Y3,4,5,6
Wave 3 materials – very much focused upon the four operations

I always find the difficulty with these published interventions is that we end up making the children fit the intervention rather than tailoring the intervention to meet the learning needs. Children and staff end up following an over the counter programme working their way through a series of lessons which will secure some knowledge and understanding and will plug a few gaps but won’t necessarily close the gap sufficiently.

This is where being rigorous, robust and accurate with our assessment data is crucial to identifying who requires intervention and subsequently planning targeted intervention. It’s nigh on impossible to identify the targeted intervention of the initial assessment information isn’t right.

There will be many assessment systems, tracking programs as target proformas kicking around. Some will be highly sophisticated and some quite simple.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your assessment tracking system is, if the assessment data inputted is not rigorous, robust and accurate then it is futile.

Such data can not simply be test based and driven. A test assesses a limited amount of information in a finite amount of time. Teacher assessment builds a holistic picture over time of what has be learned, used and applied to all learning areas. It covers a vast amount of learning and in order to be rigorous, robust and accurate, needs to be moderated to ensure everyone has a handle on what a particular standard is.

Formative assessment is key to having rigorous, robust and accurate summative assessment. A test at the end of a year only gives a best fit judgement.

When I first took up my post as head teacher I inherited a best fit assessment system. The end of term judgements were based on a published test taken on one day. Depending on the number of marks achieved, a child could score a very different assessment level to that which they were truly working within.

The tracking and progress measures did not match the work seen in book scrutinies and lesson observations.

I had never found myself in such a situation where the pudding had been seriously overegged. It had to stop. Raise On-line was completely blue in KS1 and KS2.

SLT met and decided that a complete overhaul of how we recorded our assessment of learning was needed. This in turn led to a complete update of our ‘stranded assessment grids’ for reading, writing and maths (RWM). We needed to be able to measure progress in single average points.

We spent a significant amount of time in 3 staff teams to look at reading, writing and maths stranded assessments. We needed a system where we to be able to record our judgements, be able to identify the next steps for learning/teaching and also set targets.

Each team presented the stranded sheets for their focus and everyone else had further input into these. It was a huge undertaking to get it off the ground. Staff required time to begin to add their judgements for each child for RWM from scratch – the picture over the whole school was very different, but it accurate and certainly not best fit.

Our maths assessment is based on the 4 ATs and they are sublevelled. Sublevels give the odd number value for average point scores (APS) and we needed to be able to track in single points. The overall mid point (the 1b 2b 3b 4b 5b 6b etc…) for every sublevel is created by multiplying the level by 6 and adding 3. Level 1b is (1×6) +3 = 9 and so on.

Therefore the c and a sublevel are 2 points below and above respectively. We agreed that a secure 2b/15APS must have all strands completed on level 2b. However, if a child had all the 2b strands completed and between a third and a half of 1a completed they would be awarded 16APS but would still be 2b overall. By tracking in single points, we were able to show clear progress that wasn’t necessarily seen for all children by simply tracking in sublevels.


Our maths assessment can be downloaded here from TES.



We aligned our reading stranded sheets to the national book bands so everything was streamlined and meshed together.



Our writing assessment is aligned to the assessment focus areas and we chose to assess writing in both fiction and non-fiction. Our monitoring and analysis showed boys were significantly achieving better in non-fiction writing than in fiction.


It has taken time to embed this right across the school and involved significant moderation and pupil progress meetings in order to ensure our assessments are rigorous, robust and accurate.

We also linked our RWM stranded sheets to target setting. We did not want another layer that was different from what we were already doing. Staff again met in teams and created target flips for RWM. We simply turned all of the statements for each sublevel into ‘I can…’ child language. For maths we used AT1 and AT2 for the target flip. We agreed that when teaching an AT3 or AT4 focus, targets would be displayed in the classrooms for those blocks and units of work.

How does the target flip work? We stick the writing and maths target flips into the front cover of the book upside down, so when the child opens their book, they flip them up and they can see them irrespective of the page they are working on. The reading target flips are bookmarks.

Examples of RWM target flips:-


Once we had overhauled our assessment and tracking systems and procedures we needed to use this data effectively in order to make it ‘work hard for us’. We needed to use it to measure the progress different groups of children – gender, FSM, vulnerable etc….

We also needed a clear way of identifying those on track to meet national expectations, those in the target group requiring further intervention and also being able to track those in line to make/not make 2 levels progress.

We aligned our assessment judgements on step trackers and progress maps.


These show very clearly on entry and then term by term the children who are working within/above and below the expectation for their year group. Staff can identify the target group for reading, writing and maths. Following this, staff identify the next steps for learning using the stranded sheets for RWM to target which areas the children need to focus upon in order to move on.


First column shows the on entry assessments in sublevels and average point scores. Next three columns are for the end of each term.

Children’s names are inputted. Those above the blue are working in-line with or above the expectation for their year group. Those in the blue are the target group and those below the blue are children working significantly below expectations. These may be children with SEN etc…

Although the step tracker clearly identifies the children in the target group, it doesn’t show progress. Those children in the target group may be working below expectation, but the progress made from their individual starting points may be phenomenal. Equally, those children working in-line with expectations may not be making the progress they should.

This is where the progress map comes into its own.



Children are plotted for Y1 and Y2 based on their end of EYFS Profile. (and this will change next year as the profiles have changed!!!!!!!)

The far left column has all the FSP scores on. Children’s names go into the next column for on entry to Y1/Y2. Once a child’s name is inputted they move along term by term in a linear fashion showing their progress against on entry.

The yellow boxes show the national expectation for the end of Y1/Y2.

The green boxes show the expectation for end of Y1/Y2 based on the FSP starting point.

Each year group’s progress map indicates that year group end of year expectation as well as expectations based on starting points.

The progress map shows those children making good progress, better than good progress and also identifies those children who may be making a much progress as they should.



Once a child has end of KS1 data, this is inputted into the KS2 progress map. The far left column shows the KS1 data.

This map functions in the same way as the KS1 map, apart from it shows progress towards making 2 levels progress.

The yellow boxes show the expectation for the end of year group.

The green show the expectation based on starting points.

Pink shows the end of key stage expectation.

Staff can identify those children who are at risk of not making 2 levels progress and target appropriate intervention.


Once you have identified the target groups of children, how do you ensure the intervention is high quality and has great impact?

Often TAs are given the target groups. Is this the best intervention? We are lucky to have an amazing skills set of TAs and HLTAs who really understand learning. They can unpick learning, peel back the layers of the onion and strip it down to the real nitty gritty. It’s all about making the best progress you possibly can.

Ultimately it is down to the teacher to make this happen. It shouldn’t always be left to the TA to ensure the target group make good progress. If the teaching and learning is only satisfactory then the progress can’t be any more than just that.

Published intervention materials may work for some children but the best intervention is identifying exactly what needs to be taught/learned in order to make good progress. using data, using stranded sheets, being totally clear about what it is you want the child to be able to know, to understand, to learn, to do, to use and to apply.



1 thought on “365 days in my shoes Day 26

  1. I think the focus on pupil premium is interesting. It has challenged schools to think about that gap to be narrowed not just moved up as the rest make progress!

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