Context and Summary

Following the implementation of a New National Curriculum (September 2014) and the removal of a national system of assessment levels, Penn Hall has adopted a very proactive stance towards the changes and is now in an excellent position moving towards the future. We have embraced the new NC which is now embedded across the school and have implemented a new assessment system that best meets the needs of the children at this school. We are well pleased with our assessment system, Solar, which is developing its analytical features that will be used this year to monitor progress, along with our new Track software. We remain confident that pupils across the school continue to make excellent progress.

Penn Hall has the broadest range of ability of any school in Wolverhampton.  The range encompasses children functioning at P2 in the P scales right through to students at the higher end of the National Curriculum levels who attain good A* -C grades at GCSE level.  The vast majority of our pupils would be considered to be working below age related expectations.

A variety of Assessment tools are used to capture and record progress along pupil’s journey through the school. A more detailed picture can be found in the School’s Assessment Policy

Click on the link to view our Assessment Policy

The Government has taken away the framework of National Curriculum levels and tasked all schools across the country with finding a suitable and appropriate assessment system to meet the needs of its pupils. For us this has led to the opportunity to move away from B Squared, which has served us well for a number of years in measuring small steps but has increasingly not matched the curriculum that we want to deliver. Therefore, after careful deliberation we chose to use a new web based software tool called Solar and purchased an assessment system, P steps, that has been developed by Wilson Stuart, a similar outstanding PD Special school. This has been very successful with 100% of our teachers registering their approval of the new system.  Solar has the advantage of covering all our assessment needs under one umbrella as well as providing us with some data analysis ability. Previously we had used CASPA, which enabled us to compare our progress with similar pupils around the UK. Like other schools we will lose much of this ability, as schools around the country will be using different assessment systems to record progress. We are hoping, as P Steps is adopted by more and more schools nationally that moderation opportunities will arise. Working alongside Special schools in the Birmingham Assessment Consortia helped us identify a new progress and target setting tool call TRACK which we have purchased and implemented in autumn 2016. This has enabled us to sharpen our ability to identify pupils who are underachieving and implement interventions.

On entry to school pupils start with a Baseline assessment where they are mapped on our Early Years Steps, which has been developed by our EY coordinator along with her counterpart from Wilson Stuart, again a similar outstanding special school in Birmingham. This covers the Prime Areas (PSED, Communication & Language and Physical Development) and specific areas (Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design). For the time being we shall also continue to use the EYFS Profile. Further detail can be found in the EYFS SES which can be found on the main website.

From 5 years of age onwards, Solar and our new Stepping Stones P STEPS will be the major assessment tool used across the school. This continues to break down learning into very small steps which means that even the smallest increments of progress can be recognised and recorded. One major advantage is that this system will be fully flexible and allow our staff to adjust the statement banks to match the taught curriculum. Our three star system of emerging, developing, secure enables us to ensure mastery and depth within each level.

Click on the link to view Depth and Mastery at Penn Hall

Our new Stepping Stones P Steps system maps the progress of children across Key Stages 1-4 with 18 P levels or Steps.

Click on the link to Assessment Levels Map

It is widely recognized that a gap exists between the P levels and the Year 1 National Curriculum expectations. Our new system has bridging levels built in but even this may not prevent our children spending an extended period crossing this threshold. As an Outstanding school, we are constantly looking at way to refine and improve our systems and are currently looking at ways of tracking and capturing progress of students as they pass through KS 4 & 5. We are looking at a personalized approach where each student has their own individual pathway tracked and monitored during these years.

For the most complex children, Routes for Learning are used to gauge the earliest developmental steps. We shall also be responding to the recommendations of the Rochford Review in terms of the assessment continuum from responsiveness to investigation. WE have an exciting project this year working in conjunction with two partner special schools in Wolverhampton and Professor Barry Carpenter on developing the Engagement scale and profile.

Phonic screening is also carried out, as appropriate, at the end of Year 1 and again in Year 2 as necessary. We shall continue to undertake Statutory Assessments at the end of Key Stage 1 & 2 although we already anticipate that this will lead to the judgment that all our pupils have not met the ‘expected standards’. Our pupils will be subject to Teacher assessments this year using the P Scales.

Click here to view Primary Assessment 2017

The publication of the Rochford Review (October 2016) which reviewed the statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests has recommended a set of interim Pre Key Stage standards which we shall be applying to pupils at the end of KS 1 & 2.

Click here to view the Rochford Review

Additionally, Standardised Reading tests will be administered twice annually as an additional measure of progress. We are delighted with the progress made by many pupils in their reading, a testament to the highly successful RWI programme that has been running for 4 years. 

RWI is a systematic approach to teaching literacy based upon synthetic phonics designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers. It has been used at Penn Hall School for 4 years now and had produced some outstanding results. We firmly believe that progress with reading has a significant impact across all subjects and it is seen as a strength of the school - other schools have been directed to us as a centre of excellence. 

We decided last year to increase the threshold level for each stepping stone from 80% to 100% as the statements are closely matched to our taught curriculum and felt this would result in a more consistent and realistic assessment model. The expectation that pupils achieve three stars for 100% of statements at each stepping stone ensures that this is a secure-fit model in line with the interim teacher assessment frameworks introduced for statutory teacher assessments in 2015-16.

Students in the 14-19 age range follow appropriate accredited courses that may include Entry Level & GCSE examinations, Functional Skills, Vocational studies (which have included courses such as Employability and Land Based studies) ASDAN Bronze & Silver and Personal Progress.  Following increasing successes over the past five years our Accreditation results were again outstanding as can be seen in our summary documentation.  

Click here to view Headlines 2015, 2016 & 2017

Click here to view Accreditation at Penn Hall 2013 - 2017

Progression Guidance data sets are government  produced milestones for progress across Key Stages in English, Maths and Science that use purely age and starting points as guides. In depth analysis has been undertaken for pupils over a number of years and the data reinforces our belief that pupils across the school are making excellent progress with approximately 80% meeting or exceeding median or upper quartile targets. It should be stated that the past 2 year’s sample is significantly reduced because of the removal of NC levels (only those in P scales and finishing Key Stage 2 were applicable). However, it is consistent with the past 5 year’s performance and reaffirms our belief that Penn Hall pupils are making outstanding progress when compared with similar cohorts nationally. With the removal of P levels (Post Rochford) it will no longer to use PG directly as a comparative analysis tool.

Click here to view 2010 - 2017 PG Summary

2015-17 – a new start

Our new Stepping Stones P steps framework is proving to be a great success. Teachers have embraced the new system and we consider our assessment system to be stronger than at any time previously.

In summer 2016, a full forensic data analysis was undertaken in English and Maths, based upon the evidence collected in Solar. This was our first year assessing under our new system, where teachers evidenced their judgements and recorded progress in the front of books in order to triangulate the assessment process. This has made a significant difference to planning, teaching and assessment at Penn Hall.

Click here to view Evidence Based Assessment at Penn Hall

During the 16-17 academic year, our new Flightpaths, based upon PG, were introduced and have set challenging targets from Key stage 1 to 4. We are trialing a target setting model in our EYFS based on the progress made last year in EY Steps.  Three face to face Pupil Progress meetings with teachers across the year will ensure that pupils are well monitored with interventions put in place should concerns arise. Year on year progress will be recorded in Track, our new software, that also breaks down our Flightpaths into termly figures to enable teachers to further monitor progress.

Click here to view Intervention Guidance Document 2018

Click here to view Progress and Attainment at Penn Hall 2016 - 2017

Further context

RAISEonline is not the useful tool for Special Schools that it is for mainstream colleagues. Perhaps the most salient features for Penn Hall School is in the contextual section from last year which tells us that our pupils are:

  • Above the 80th percentile for pupils eligible for Free school meals

  • Above the 80th percentile for pupils from minority ethnic groups

  • Above the 80th percentile for pupils whose first language is not believed to be English

  • Our school deprivation factor is between the 60th – 80th percentile

Given that context, this further emphasizes the excellent progress made by pupils overall.

With Solar and P STEPS this year we will have termly summative assessment points and build in plenty of teacher moderation time through INSET and departmental meetings to ensure the consistency that has been a feature over a number of years. Moderation externally is also taking place with EY Steps and will hopefully extend as more schools adopt P Steps. Teachers have been asked to evidence the steps of progress within the P STEPS and this is linked to our marking scheme initiative. 

Click to here to view Moderation at Penn Hall

In our Feedback Policy, revised again this year, questioning, feedback and marking are recognized as essential features of high quality teaching and this was included in our whole School Development Plan. This improvement in formative assessment lead to a greater coherence across the school with daily and weekly tracking of progress  evident in pupil’s work within Solar.

Click here to view Feedback Policy