A Parental Guide to Assessment and Reporting in Key Stage 3 at Kirkburton Middle School


Reporting to Parents


Three times a year parents will receive reports on their child’s progress in school. One of these will be the established Parents’ Evening with an opportunity for parents to discuss attainment and progress with subject staff. There will also be two additional written reports, one an interim report and the other a full report. These will consist of:


  • A pathway grade for each subject.
  • An end of year forecast grade
  • A judgement as to whether current effort levels are acceptable.
  • Where effort is judged to be below expectations, further details will be provided as to why this is the case e.g. homework, behaviour in class.
  • The yearly full report will also include a comment from the form tutor.


Report Example




At key stage 3 we use a banding system that measures pupil progress against potential GCSE outcomes. The process of determining and assigning pathways helps us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of pupils and enables us to employ the most effective teaching strategies to maximise progress. It will also give us a point from which to internally track pupil progress. Using formative and summative assessment, we can track pupil progress throughout years 7 and 8 to ensure pupils have gained the required knowledge and skills, at that point in time, in order for them to achieve their potential GCSE outcomes. In line with our philosophy of high aspirations for all, the expectation is that all pupils make progress in line with the very best schools nationally.


We have placed pupils into pathways using a combination of information:


  • Key Stage 2 SAT Results.
  • Year 7 Baseline assessments (GL Assessments in English and Maths) with predicted GCSE Estimates.
  • In those subjects of a more practical nature such as Art, PE and Music baseline assessments are conducted through the Summer Term in Year 6 and Autumn Term Year 7 in order to assign attainment bands.
  • Using statistical predictions of likely GCSE attainment based on prior attainment e.g. Fischer Family Trust.


Whilst secondary school progress nationally is measured externally in relation to the progress pupils make from their Key Stage 2 test outcomes, and we understand why this is the case, we also recognise that Key Stage 2 tests only measure attainment at one snapshot in time. We also know, from published performance data, that pupils at middle schools, on average, have lower progress scores at the end of Key Stage 2 than pupils at primary schools. As such they don’t always give a true reflection of a child’s future potential. For this reason, we don’t assign rigid ‘flight paths’ for pupil progress; to do so would seem to be entrenching pre-existing inequalities in attainment measured at that one point in time. We also recognise that pupil progress isn’t linear and rarely follows predictable trajectories. As a middle school, we also have a much clearer idea of a child’s potential at the end of Key Stage 2 and we use this knowledge when assigning our pathways.


Below is a table to show what GCSE grade we might expect a pupil to attain at the end of Year 11 if they make sustained good progress on their assigned Key Stage 3 pathway.


If pupils consistently demonstrate that they are working at a level above their initial pathway, they will be moved into the next pathway. No pupil will be moved down a pathway. Where pupils are performing below expectations support will be put in place to help them get back on track; this will often involve contacting parents to discuss the concerns identified.


KS3 Pathway

Estimated GCSE outcome

Content taught











We use pathways at Key Stage 3 rather than target grades as we do not want to put any limits on pupil aspirations. We want to encourage the mind-set where all pupils strive for excellence and a culture of ‘I can’t do yet’ rather than ‘I can’t do.’   


We firmly believe that if teachers teach good lessons and pupils work hard, both in and out of school, this will lead to positive outcomes. We continuously monitor the quality of teaching and learning across the school in order to ensure all pupils have access to great learning. We also place a huge emphasis on monitoring and rewarding pupil effort in all areas of the curriculum. If pupils try hard in every aspect of their work, success invariably comes their way. We strive to create a culture in school where excellence is the norm; a school where working hard is something to be celebrated by everybody.


What does the effort grade column mean on a school report?


For us, this is the most important column on the report. If pupils try their hardest at all times, we are confident they will make excellent progress in school. Effort grades are ranked 1-4 with 1 being the highest grade. Where a child has an effort grade 3 or below, teachers will identify key cause(s) for concern.


Criteria for Awarding Effort Grades




  • demonstrates an outstanding work ethic and a passion to learn independently
  • enthusiastically embraces all opportunities for learning
  • is extremely well-organised and actively follows instructions
  • behaves exceptionally well
  • always completes homework on time and to a high standard
  • studies independently and seizes opportunities to improve



  • is hardworking, conscientious and determined
  • makes positive contributions and acts upon advice
  • is consistently ready to learn and follows instructions
  • behaves consistently well
  • completes homework on time and to an expected standard
  • acts on opportunities to improve


Requires Improvement

  • needs to work harder and focus more in lessons
  • does not always persevere and produces work that is inconsistent in quality
  • can be unprepared for learning and does not always follow instructions and/or
  • sometimes behaves in a disruptive manner
  • completes homework but may have missed deadlines
  • sometimes produces work that lacks thought or care


Serious Cause for Concern

  • lacks focus and needs frequent monitoring
  • gives up too easily and produces work that lacks thought or care
  • shows little interest in improving standards
  • often arrives unprepared for lessons
  • is uncooperative and disrupts learning
  • rarely completes homework
  • produces work of poor quality








Year End Forecast


Throughout the year, teachers monitor the progress of all pupils against the assessment criteria for each pathway. Pupil progress varies throughout the year and from topic to topic and so the ‘year end forecast' column is a best fit of all the current assessment information. When a child is forecast as being below their pathway, it may be that your child is not making the necessary progress as a result of their ATL levels in school. As such the Year End Forecast should always be read in conjunction with the ATL column grade. A forecast below the assigned pathway may also indicate that the required skills and knowledge at various formative and summative assessment points since the start of the year is below what is expected.


How do we assess pupils at KMS?


Essentially we assess the learning of pupils in two ways, which act as two separate layers of assessment. These are as follows


Layer 1: Formative


Formative assessment takes place on a day-to-day basis during teaching and learning, allowing teachers and pupils to assess attainment and progress more frequently. It does not involve the grading of work but instead the teacher identifying pupils’ strengths and weaknesses, supporting them to respond to their areas for development, and adapting their teaching to help pupils improve. Formative assessment is what we want teachers to focus on most. This is because research evidence tells us that this has the greatest impact on learning. Some examples of formative assessment are:


  • Quizzes
  • Multi-choice questions
  • Retrieval activities
  • Reading or observing pupil work (either during or after a lesson)
  • Live marking (marking pupils’ work as they are completing it)
  • Breaking a complex task down into several smaller parts and assessing one part at a time
  • Spelling and vocabulary tests
  • Filling in blank knowledge organisers
  • Questioning

Layer 2: Summative


Summative assessment is sometimes called assessment of learning and is a formal method to evaluate achievement and learning against key skills/knowledge and expected standards over a period of time. The period of time may vary, depending on what the teacher wants to find out. There may be an assessment at the end of a topic, at the end of a term or half-term, at the end of a year or, as in the case of the national curriculum tests, at the end of a Key Stage. Assessments can take the form of an end of unit test, formal exam, practical performance and project work.


Frequently asked questions


Why can’t my child be given a GCSE target at Key Stage 3?


Whilst we can use data to look at how pupils with particular starting points usually perform at GCSE, we don’t want to use this to set targets. The main reason is that we don’t want to put a ceiling on pupils’ expectations of themselves – we want all pupils to believe that with the right effort, we can all get that little bit better. Just because most pupils with a particular Key Stage 2 starting point end up getting grade 5 at GCSE, that doesn’t mean that has to be the case for everybody.


Can my child move pathways?


Yes. If pupils consistently demonstrate that they are working at a level above their initial pathway, they will be moved into the next one. Where pupils are performing below expectations, support will be put in place to help pupils to get back on track.


Why are the pathways so broad? I want to know the exact GCSE grade my child is currently working at.


It is extremely difficult to predict GCSE grades during Key Stage 3 due to the amount of learning that has to take place before pupils eventually sit their exams at the end of year 11. As a result, we have designed a Key Stage 3 Assessment System that deliberately avoids connecting our curriculum objectives too closely to GCSE grades. We feel to do so would be misleading and may lead to unnecessary anxiety for our pupils. We want our pupils to focus on getting better in every subject during Key Stage 3 rather than their eventual GCSE grades. The firm message we want to give at Key Stage 3 is ‘with the right amount of effort, anything is possible.’


Is there any link between the Key Stage 3 Curriculum and GCSE?


Over the past two years we have rewritten our entire Key Stage 3 curriculum in order to raise the level of challenge for all pupils. As part of our curriculum planning, all subjects have identified the core knowledge and skills that pupils will need to gain at key points.  We are at present reviewing and adapting this further, working collaboratively with colleagues across the pyramid to ensure that pupils are achieving in line with their pathway at GCSE. As previously stated we aim high and, with the right amount of effort and commitment, we believe all pupils can make great progress during their time in school.


Who do I speak to if I have any further questions?


If you have any queries/questions about your child’s progress within a specific subject, please contact their subject teacher in the first instance.  In addition to this the calendar for Parents’ Evenings has been aligned with the school reporting schedule in order to allow much more informed discussions to take place. Where you have more general concerns i.e. across three or more subjects, please contact your child’s Form Tutor.


Mr Martin (Assistant Headteacher)

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