30 Shiphay Lane, Torquay TQ2 7DY
T: 01803 613215

Y7-11 Absence: 01803 653 750

South West Secondary
School of the Year 2019

30 Shiphay Lane, Torquay TQ2 7DY
E:   T: 01803 613215
Y7-11 Absence Line: 01803 653 750

South West Secondary School of the Year 2019

Feedback and Assessment

There have been three recent reports that we have taken much note of. The first is the research of well-known Australian educational researcher John Hattie, who has spent many years looking at the impact on progress of a huge number of factors in schools; things such as the impact of class size, instructional teaching, homework, marking etc. He has consistently shown that the factor that makes the most impact on the progress of young people is the quality of the ‘feedback’ from teachers on how to improve – that is formative feedback or help as they are working on an area rather than just a summative comment at the end of the year. This research is backed up by the Sutton Trust’s report looking at progress factors, and they too have highlighted ‘feedback’ as the key driver of success.

As a result of these reports and through looking at our teachers and departments whose students do best, we are putting high-quality, detailed ‘feedback’ at the core of everything we do.

From September 2016:   

1. The key focus for staff and students will be on ‘Key Assessments’ – work in class and homework will be leading to these events which will happen in the majority of cases once a half-term, more at A Level. Staff will be asked to give very detailed feedback to ensure that the students know precisely how to improve when they face similar work in the future; students will be asked in many cases to do some parts of the work again having taken on the advice given.

2.  The ‘Key Assessments’ in Years 7 – 11 will be assessed using the new number system which the Government has brought in at GCSE to replace grades A- U; at A Level we will continue with A* - U. 

The Government’s new grading system is this: -

Level 9 –  A new grade indicating attainment beyond ‘A*’ work;

Level 8 – Equivalent to ‘A*’ work under the old system;

Level 7 - Equivalent to ‘A’ work under the old system.

We aim for all our students to aspire to achieve 7-9 if possible.

Level 6 - Equivalent to ‘B’ work under the old system.

 Level 5 - Equivalent to ‘C’ work under the old system.

 We will use these numbers in each year when marking Key Assessments and when reporting to you. A Level 7 in Year 7 does not mean that the student is working at an ‘A’ grade GCSE at that time – absolutely not; it means that at the moment and as much as we can tell at that stage, the work is equivalent to a Level 7 for a Year 7 student. As the work gets harder in each year, it may or may not mean that the student can maintain this performance, but we will endeavour to support those who are having difficulties in this respect.

3. There will also be a grade for ‘Attitude to Learning’ that the student has shown in the time running up to this ‘Key Assessment’ – this will give us as teachers a chance to draw attention to really effective and positive homework and classroom performance, even if the Key Assessment may need greater focus.

4. There has been one of the first ever in -depth analysis of the impact of marking on student performance by Oxford University published in April 2016. it made the following main points: 

  •  ‘The use of specific targets to make marking as specific and actionable as possible is likely to increase pupil progress’;
  •  ‘Pupils are unlikely to benefit from marking, unless some time is set aside to enable pupils to consider and respond to marking’;
  • ‘Some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress. A mantra should be that schools should mark less in terms of the number of pieces marked, but mark better’.

It is also evident from our experience that tokenistic marking is far less effective than detailed Feedback. As a result, the students’ notebooks will be looked at by teachers to ensure that students are making accurate notes and completing homework to a satisfactory standard, but the main focus and the key to improvement will be through the ‘Key Assessments’.


We are changing the way that, as an institution, we monitor progress and report on it. So, for most students (there are exceptions for Year 7 and 11) the following process will be adopted:

  • Internal Cause for Concern Years 10-13 carried out early in Term 1 to ensure the student is on track – you will not hear about this if all is going well;
  • Report 1 – this will give you the mean of the ‘Key Assessments’ completed and the ‘Attitude to Learning’ grade only;
  • Mentoring 1 – this will immediately follow Report 1 and will involve the Tutor and the student talking through issues. In the Lower School this will focus on Learning Skills in particular whereas increasingly as the students rise through the school, it will look at welfare issues, working practices etc;
  • Parents’ Evening – this will be soon after Mentoring 1 and will be an opportunity for parents and students to hear from staff exactly how the students can improve and to put a face to a teacher’s name. We realise that the Parents’ Evening experience is not always how you would want it to be, and we are looking at ways of improving this for this academic year so that this crucial meeting works as well as it can;
  • An additional Support Evening – some students and parents will be invited into school for longer meetings than Parents’ Evenings can provide. The purpose of this meeting is to look in more detail at the student’s performance and to offer various support strategies;
  • Report 2 – this will happen later in the year and will contain a detailed Tutor comment on areas beyond the academic curriculum;
  • Mentoring 2 – this will be a chance to follow-up Mentoring 1 and the two reports to see how the student has responded to advice previously given;
  • Support Evening 2 – this will be a further opportunity to offer more detailed support for students who may value this.

We think that the changes will provide more immediate feedback through: a more structured and immediate mentoring system, including an additional session each year; a Parents’ Evening whose timing will allow for high level discussion in response to the report and the mentoring; two additional evenings of support for those students who may need them; and we have also given more time to departments to look at individuals causing any concern in their subject area.   

James Gregory

Academic Deputy


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