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Please see the attached presentation for information about assessing without levels at Ralph Thoresby School.

Download this file (Y7AWL.pptx)Assessing without levels[ ]183 kB

We are aware that changes to assessments, along with the education reforms that are currently taking place across the country, bring about significant challenge for teachers, parents and pupils. We have taken the opportunity to provide some detailed information regarding these changes and the new assessment methods that we are adopting at Ralph Thoresby School. 


How is assessment changing at Ralph Thoresby School? 

As you may already be aware, the government is in the process of implementing sweeping reforms in education. One of these reforms is the introduction of new GCSEs and A-levels. At Ralph Thoresby School we have recently changed our assessment and reporting methods to reflect these changes to GCSEs and A-levels.  

·         Current Y11 students have started these new GCSE courses in nearly all subjects (except business and technology) and will be graded on a 9 point numerical scale (9-1) rather than the A*-G grades that we are all familiar with. 

·         Current Y9 students have now fully enrolled onto the new GCSE courses and other Level 2 courses

·         Current Y8 students have started to receive assessments based on the new numerical GCSE grades. 

·         Current Y7 students will receive flightpath bands and will receive reports as to whether they are making on/above/below expected progress against their respective flightpath band

These new qualifications are more challenging than before, have new assessment methods and are graded using the new number scale. 

We have adopted the new GCSE number grading system (9-1) to bring about a consistent approach to assessment, reporting and monitoring. We believe that this will best prepare us for assessments and reporting in the future. 


What does this mean for our students? 

We are gradually rolling out new reports throughout 2016-2017 to include this new information. Ffrom the first report in year 8 through to the final report in Y11, students will receive ‘split number grades’. These grades include the GCSE number grade and then a split as follows: 

+ working just above the grade; e.g. 4+ 

= working at the grade; e.g. 5= 

- working just below the grade; e.g. 3- 

If your child receives a 4+ this means that they are currently achieving a high grade 4; getting close to a grade 5. Students will also have an end of year target grade, this again will be a split number grade. 


RTS Foundation Scale: 

It is worth noting that not all students will be able to achieve a grade 1 GCSE level in certain subjects, in particular during the early years of secondary school. We have created the ‘Ralph Thoresby Foundation Scale’ to show progress for students who are not currently achieving a grade 1 GCSE grade (as a rough comparison guide a grade 1 GCSE is roughly equivalent to an old national curriculum level 3). 

The foundation scale has 5 steps: F1 through to F5. 

F1-F3 – contains what used to be old p-scales (historically used for students below national curriculum level 1) 

F4 = equivalent to old NC level 1 

F5 = equivalent to old NC level 2 


Again, these grades will show a split (+, =, or -), e.g. F4+ 


How do the new GCSE grades compare with the old GCSE grades? 


Below you will find a comparison between the old and new grading systems. 

Our subject areas have worked extremely hard to prepare for the introduction of new GCSE courses including preparing new schemes of work, re-writing assessments and engaging with new information from the exam boards. One of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is providing grades using the new 9-1 scale. As you can see from the chart above, the new grades do not map directly across to the old grades (one has 8 grades and the other has 9).  

We have eagerly awaited further information from the exam boards and the government on how to accurately predict 9-1 grades but to date, this has not been forthcoming. We understand that this is a potentially frustrating and confusing time for pupils and parents. Please rest assured that the grades we award to pupils throughout the assessment and reporting cycles are informed by professional judgement and any additional information we are able to ascertain from the exam boards and the government.  

We have also provided a table that shows rough comparisons between all legacy and new grading methods, this should be treated with a certain amount of scepticism, but it is useful to see how things roughly line up. Please see the additional document on Grade Comparisons


There have not been many exams using the new system yet, so how can we be sure of assessment accuracy? 

All schools across the country are in the same position. At the moment we have rough comparisons with old GCSE grades and assessments and also the new data from Maths and English from Summer 2017 examinations. We have conducted a vast amount of research and worked with a number of other organisations to give us the best possible chance of being accurate with our grades. All schools will have to adopt a ‘best professional judgement’ approach to the new grading system until we go through the first full exam period with these new GCSE courses and discover where the grade boundaries truly lie. We know that exams will be more challenging and that grade boundaries will shift, and we have done our very best to take all of this into account when preparing reports to pupils and parents.  

When you receive reports it is important to keep this information in mind. For some subjects, such as Maths, these grade indicators inform you that the student has developed the skills necessary and they are currently working at this particular level; this is based only on content studied so far in the student’s curriculum. However, it is also important to note that due to new content and the difficulty of the new GCSE exam papers, which present a contextual challenge (understanding what the question is actually asking for), students would not necessarily achieve this grade if they were to take the GCSE exam at this point in time.  



The future 

Colleges and employers will set their own entry requirements but the government is moving to a system where a grade 5 is the new ‘strong pass’ grade and a grade 4 is the ‘standard pass’ grade (which was the old C grade). As we go through each year and receive results from summer examinations we will be able to review and refine our assessment systems to give a much more accurate picture of how students are progressing in each subject. 

We firmly believe, more so than ever before, that students will be best served focusing on the detailed, specific feedback provided in the classroom related to what they can and can’t do. If students strive to do their very best and follow the advice of their teachers, this is the most significant way they can fulfil their potential.  

If you have any further questions, please contact myself or Angela Caswell (Deputy Headteacher) 


Yours faithfully 


Steve Hackshaw 

Assistant Headteacher - Learning, Progress and Assessment 

Download this file (Grade Comparisons.pdf)Grade Comparisons.pdf[ ]13 kB