What will Ofsted expect in relation to assessment, recording and tracking?

The information below is taken from the School Inspection Handbook, updated August 2016

The section on Outcomes for pupils emphasises the importance of progress, especially of pupils currently in the school:

“In judging achievement, inspectors will give most weight to pupils’ progress. They will take account of pupils’ starting points in terms of their prior attainment and age when evaluating progress. Within this, they will give most weight to the progress of pupils currently in the school, taking account of how this compares with the progress of recent cohorts, where there are any. Inspectors will consider the progress of pupils in all year groups, not just those who have taken or are about to take examinations or national tests. As part of pupils’ progress, inspectors will consider the growth in pupils’ security, breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills.”  (Para. 175).

Assessment, recording and tracking are vital in supporting and documenting pupil progress.

Inspectors are reminded (para.178) that this is still a period of transition:

When considering the school’s records for the progress of current pupils, inspectors will recognise that schools are at different points in their move towards adopting a system of assessment without national curriculum levels”

Judging progress

Inspectors will look at pupils’ work, talk to children and observe lessons and also use the school’s own information, taking account of the quality and rigour of the assessment on which it is based.” (para. 176)

Ofsted does not expect performance and pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format. (para. 28)

Progress is defined broadly (para. 175): “As part of pupils’ progress, inspectors will consider the growth in pupils’ security, breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills.”

Inspectors will judge (para. 179) whether:

  • “pupils are making good progress towards meeting or exceeding the expected attainment for their age, as set out in the school’s own curriculum and assessment policies
  • pupils are set challenging goals, given their starting points, and are making good progress towards meeting or exceeding these
  • pupils are gaining and consolidating knowledge, understanding and skills
  • pupils, including the most able, do work that deepens their knowledge, understanding and skills, rather than simply undertaking more work of the same difficulty or going on to study different content.”

The points below are echoed in the sections on the quality of teaching and on leadership and management:

  • the emphasis on progress of pupil groups especially disadvantaged pupils (those in receipt of pupil premium) and other groups including the more able and those with SEN/. Progress of disadvantaged pupils is compared with others in the school and also with other (non-disadvantaged) pupils nationally; attention will be paid as to whether any gaps are closing. It is important that leaders and managers evaluate progress of groups and act on the findings if needed.

For disabled pupils/ those with SEN, progress is compared to other pupils nationally with the same starting points, and there is an expectation that support will have an impact on attainment and progress.

  • the importance of a school assessment policy and a whole-school, rigorous approach, as well as of moderation.

Para 158 (on teaching) In evaluating the accuracy and impact of assessment, inspectors will consider how well: … teachers make consistent judgements about pupils’ progress and attainment, for example within a subject, across a year group and between year groups.”

The Handbook also states (para. 28) that “Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.”

  • Using assessment to raise standards through reviewing progress and adjusting planning is also emphasized. Assessment should draw on a range of evidence (para. 158).

Assessment should be used to ensure that the level of challenge is appropriate. Ofsted will also look at (para. 157) how well teachers’ feedback, written and oral, is used by pupils to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills.” (But as noted above, there is no requirement for how this should be done).

Inspectors will also consider (para. 158) how well “teachers use any assessment for establishing pupils’ starting points, teacher assessment and testing to modify teaching so that pupils achieve their potential by the end of a year or key stage; inspectors should note that Ofsted does not expect to see any particular system of assessment in place.”

  • Although there are not specific references to pupil targets, as noted earlier (para. 179), it is expected that pupils are set challenging goals based on prior attainment and are making good progress towards them. These will be based on the school’s assessment system rather than targeting progress scores.
  • As the School Inspection newsletter of March 2017 states (page 7): “Schools have asked if Ofsted is looking for a particular way of tracking progress within a key stage and using it to predict a school’s progress scores, or those of its pupils. It is not possible to forecast progress scores reliably.  This is mainly because they are based on the national distribution of each cohort’s test performance, which clearly will not be known until after the cohort has taken the test. In addition, for key stage 2:

– attainment is expected to rise as schools’ familiarity with the new, more demanding curriculum increases.

– key stage 1 prior attainment will be based on the new teacher assessment framework for the current Year 3, yet levels for older cohorts.”

  • There is also an expectation that evidence from other subjects should be used if appropriate for assessing progress in literacy and mathematics; this will show whether learning is embedded.


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