Published on: 22 Sep 2020

Back to school: Identifying gaps in learning at St Bede's

By Matt Russell, Assistant Headteacher at St Bede's Catholic Middle School

We are really interested to see our Year 7 results, since they missed a term of learning in Year 6 and we have no SATs or nationally benchmarked data for these pupils.

St Bede’s is a thriving middle school academy in Redditch, Worcestershire, providing a Catholic education to over 650 pupils aged 9 to 13 years, and is part of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi Academy Company. Assistant Head Teacher, Matt Russell, explains how the school is planning to use GL Assessment’s Progress Test Series to identify gaps in learning as their pupils return this term.

The first week back at school this year had a pastoral focus, looking at the wellbeing and mindset of pupils following lockdown using GL Assessment’s Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) survey. Confident that there were only a small number of pupils with anxiety upon their return, the school has now started to look at measuring academic progress and will be testing Year 5 and Year 7 pupils with the Progress Test in English (PTE) and the Progress Test in Maths (PTM).

Matt explains, “As our new Year 5 pupils enter the school, we are assessing what they have learned from their first school and where they should have been academically up to Year 4. We are also really interested to see our Year 7 results, since they missed a term of learning in Year 6 and we have no SATs or nationally benchmarked data for these pupils.”

Identifying significant gaps in learning

The school made its own SATs predictions for Year 6 pupils over the Summer term, which they provided to the Diocese. “It will be interesting to compare these scores with the standardised scores from PTE and PTM,” says Matt. “We will be comparing these results with the data from the beginning of last year and specifically looking at the question-level analysis for significant gaps in learning. Our schemes of work are very fluid and we will turn everything around to focus on those gaps straight away.”

Testing is very different for the school this term, as their timetable has been adjusted to meet social distancing guidelines. “We have to test one year group a day, so we cannot get as many tests done as we would normally,” says Matt. “We probably won’t get these results as quickly as usual, but once we do then the data will inform our planning with heads of department through looking at the gaps in learning. We have some fluidity in our timetable as to where we then allocate pupils.”

“We will also run the combination report, which compares PT Series and CAT4 data, to see if pupils’ attainment is in line with their potential achievement and identify any further gaps that way,” adds Matt. “We want to see the results for PTE and PTM specifically, to compare with KS1 results and see if pupils are making expected progress.”

GL Assessment is also providing an additional level of analysis this term, allowing schools to compare their own data to the post-lockdown national picture and to learn about trends seen across both subjects (English, maths and science) and age groups (test levels).

Matt is aiming for the school to get back to their usual assessment cycle as soon as possible. “We have planned the PT Series for Years 5, 7 and 8 in the Summer term, to monitor progress from the beginning to the end for all of these year groups.”

St Bede’s Catholic Middle School is one of our Centres of Assessment Excellence

Guidance on using the PT Series this year:

  • We recommend using the Progress Tests in both the Autumn and Summer terms this year. In Autumn, they will provide you with a gap analysis, helping you to plan your curriculum support for all students, and a baseline from which to measure progress in Summer 2021.
  • You may gain some interesting insights from both the Combination Reports (based on CAT4 and Progress Test Series data) and the Progress Test Categories (if you compare results from Summer 2019 to Autumn 2020). However, please bear in mind the unusual circumstances this year and the impact this may have on test scores when you compare any datasets.

If you have any further questions on using the Progress Test Series this year, please do not hesitate to contact us.