Assessment of Learning -

the Key to Success

Assessment helps teachers determine the level of understanding of each student of each concept/topic. At The Swanage School assessment is not just an end of topic test, when a child is given a grade, rather it is embedded into every lesson, and as a result teachers mould their teaching to ensure each child learns effectively.

What does this look like in class?

  • Spoken answers – the teacher identifies a student to ask rather than asking the class to raise their hands. The teacher will then use open questions such as ‘What makes you think that?’ ‘How did you get to that answer?’ ‘How does that compare to...?’
  • Tests and quizzes – to be effective in formative assessment these are short and frequent.
  • Written answers – using individual mini whiteboards or books
  • Involving students in deciding how their work should be assessed
  • Asking students to evaluate their own work and reflect on their learning
  • Getting students to assess the work of their classmates

Summative Assessment

What have we learned so far?

All students are formally tested at least once every term – for example with an end-of-unit test, a grade for a piece of project work or a mock exam. We have a termly 'Assessment Week' where students across the school are tested in a relaxed, low-stakes environment. Through assessment, teachers identify gaps, adjust their planning and ensure we focus on each student's individual learning needs and progress. Summative assessment is an important part of this cycle. 

For students, Assessment Week is a chance to review what has been learnt, consider what might be improved and get used to sitting tests, all of which are important life skills and excellent preparation for GCSEs. 

Formal mock exams take place during Year 11 prior to all external exams, either in the sports hall or in classrooms. The purpose is not only to monitor the progress and attainment but also to acquaint students with the formal process of taking exams. 

Showcase of Learning

At The Swanage School relationships lie at the heart of learning. At the end of the summer term, parents and families of Year 7 and 8 students are invited to come into school and share in their children's learning. This may take the form of student presentations, engaging with media created and work produced by the students, live debates and live demonstrations. Parents and family members will be encouraged to use assessment criteria to help judge the students' work. This process enables parents to be actively engaged with their son/daughter's learning and help both parents and students develop a deeper understanding of the learning and assessment process.

Marking students’ work

Teacher assessment is marked in green pen and is often in addition to self-assessment or peer assessment. Students will be made aware of the criteria to achieve certain levels or grades so they can monitor their own progress.

The Swanage School Assessment Framework

All formal assessments are accompanied by an assessment framework. This identifies clearly what is expected for a student to achieve a certain grade. This is a very transparent approach and allows students (and parents) to understand fully what is expected of them and how to do well. All students are graded on the 9 - 1 GCSE scale, in formal assessments.

As parents, you can help by asking your child about their assessments and ask to see the assessment grid (the sheet which shows what is needed for each grade) both before the assessment and afterwards. Look out for the pink and green highlights on your son/daughter's assessment grid:

Green = 'Seen' (things they have shown they can do

Pink = 'Think' (this is something to work on)

We have developed the Assessment Framework by evaluating that a Year 11 grade 9 (for example) students would have been able to achieve in Year 7. That then becomes the grading criteria to achieve grade 8 in Year 7.

GCSE Grading System

In 2016 the GSCE grading system was changed from the old A* to C grade to a new 9-1 scale, where grade 5 is a 'good pass rate' in the same way a 'C' was the good pass grade previously. The purpose of the change was to drive up standards nationally, so whilst grade 5 is a 'pass', it is actually a low'B'/high 'C' grade.

Current  grade

Old grade

9 A* plus
8 A*
7 A
6 high B
5 low B / high C
4 low C/D
3 E
2 F
1 G


All assessments for all students use the GCSE grading system, so for example, a student in Year 7 will be given a GCSE grade. This does not mean that they would achieve that grade if they sat the GCSE that day, rather it means if they continue learning at the same rate until they sit their GCSE in Year 11, that is the most likely grade they will achieve then.