Showing progress for pupils working below on the PITA model

By far one of the most common questions we hear from schools using a Point In Time Assessment model is: how best to show that pupils consistently working 'below' are making progress.

For pupils who are consistently assessed as On Track or similar, schools will have a good idea of what sort of progress is being made, since these children are broadly keeping pace with the curriculum as you teach it. A Progress Matrix or Progress Overview report works well for looking at the progress these children are making at a cohort level.

What about the children consistently assessed as Below, Well Below, Personalised Curriculum, PKS or similar (depending on the terminology you've chosen)? Those judgements alone don't give you much indication of what aspects of the curriculum pupils are accessing, how much progress they're making, and whether they're closing gaps.

Note that this isn't necessarily a problem at the higher level of analysis; for school leadership looking at cohorts or the school as a whole, it may be that having termly judgements of Below for these children provides all the information needed. After all, this data isn't really designed for comparing the individual progress of children working at very different levels - perhaps even on entirely different curriculums. Progress can mean very different things for different pupils, and that's in large part why the DfE and Ofsted are encouraging schools to move away from attempts to measure 'expected progress'. See this excellent post "Arm Yourself" from James Pembroke for a collection of key statements from authorities on the need to move away from the simplified picture of pupil progress that we ended up with under levels.

With that in mind, it's also worth considering that there's no requirement to include all your various forms of assessment in a tracking system. It's perfectly reasonable to show progress for particular pupils by looking at their books, individual assessments and reports, classroom test results, other documentation, etc. Don't feel the need to put every piece of data into your tracking system unless it's genuinely useful to have it there.

What options are available in Insight?

Keeping all the above in mind, there are plenty of cases where you might want to be able to demonstrate in Insight some of the progress your SEND or other children working out of year are making, both at a cohort level (eg running reports on all SEND children across the school) and at a pupil level (eg putting together reports for parents or for pupil progress meetings). Bear in mind that Ofsted "will not compare the outcomes achieved by pupils with SEND with those achieved by other pupils with SEND in the school, locally or nationally." (source, p. 92 para. 315)

At heart, Insight is a flexible system, designed to enable you to track in ways that are right for your school. That means there are lots of options you can explore. We've listed some of the approaches we've seen schools use below, in rough order of workload sensitivity!

  • If you want to have a finer level of detail in your termly summative teacher assessments, some schools have added a range of options for pupils working below. You could have something along the lines of >3 yrs below; 2 yrs below; 1 yr below; Just below; On-track; Above
  • Some schools are keeping their main teacher assessments simple, but recording additional summative assessments for pupils where relevant/useful. These might be P Scales, PIVATs, BSquared or other commercial assessments, or any other linear scale (Y1 Emerging, Developing, Secure, etc) which allows you to show smaller steps of progress. Some schools choose to record a summative assessment of progress alongside the summative assessment of attainment (with options like Small Steps, Steady, Rapid)
  • If you're doing standardised testing, standardised scores are great for looking at progress. You can record if a pupil has taken a paper from an earlier year by entering as, eg, Y2 80
  • You can also track other kinds of assessment for these pupils, for example their Reading and Spelling ages over time.
  • If you're assessing objectives in Insight, you can often demonstrate individual progress / closing of gaps using objective-level information. This can be as simple as showing that a Y5 child had secured 20% of the Y1 curriculum in Autumn, and by Spring has secured 40%. The Objectives section of the Pupils page will show you exactly what objectives pupils have covered through the year, and to what depth.
  • Some schools have gone further and created bespoke sets of statements via the objective grids for assessing SEND pupils. This is always one to consider carefully due to the large number of objectives that end up having to be assessed - make sure the value matches the time spent!

There are so many options - it really comes down to thinking about how you'd like to be able to show progress for these pupils, and then talking to us about how that can be set up in Insight. Any and all ideas are always welcomed!

For more on this, as well as some caveats on some common approaches, see James Pembroke's article Presenting progress data for pupils ‘working below’.

Further Reading

For considerations on the use of pre-key-stage standards alongside teacher judgements, see Can we use pre-key stage standards to track the progress of pupils with SEND?

For more on how recommended uses of Insight for SEND pupils, see our SENCo's Guide to Insight.

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