Is there a smart, easy way to assess students at KS3?

To understand where children stand as they enter secondary school in Year 7, teachers need to know students’ strengths and weaknesses to identify their potential as well as any hidden barriers to learning.

Parents, naturally, are also keen that their children build on whatever they have learned at primary school and are given the best possible start at their new secondary school.

But how can this be done simply and without putting undue stress on either teachers or students? Schools understandably do not want to replace one accountability straitjacket – forcing children onto a premature GCSE flight path – with another, high-stakes assessment at Key Stage 3.

As Kieran Scanlon, Principal of Sir Robert Woodard Academy, part of the Woodard Academies Trust, says, Trusts “want to assess progress in a way that doesn’t limit teacher creativity or add to teacher workload”.

He also points out that schools need to assess in a way that allows schools to make reliable, comparative judgements against other schools – be they partners or national statistical neighbours.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The important thing to bear in mind, says Hilary Fine, Head of Product at GL Assessment, is there is no reason why assessment should be intrinsically onerous for teachers or stressful for students. “Assessment should be smart, reliable and easy to use. It shouldn’t be a burden to teachers. So digital, standardised assessment that is robust and allows teachers to compare their children nationally is ideal.”

To discover what good assessment looks like at Key Stage 3 and to see why it doesn’t have to add to teacher workload, download the full report.