Letters extra: Aiming too high?

13th June 2003 at 01:00

One of the strengths of the Key Stage 3 Strategy has been the extensive range of good quality support materials for schools. However, the latest guidance on the Intervention Strategy (the programme of targeted support for individual pupils or groups) may have stretched aspirations just a little too far.

Page 16 of the document: Introducing the Third Year states that the aim of the Intervention Strategy is "to ensure that pupils who attain level 3 in the Key Stage 2 tests achieve level 5 in Year 9".nbsp;

There are no doubt many pupils for whom this is a reasonable and appropriate expectation. In 2002, in English, 30% of pupils succeeded in making this transition nationally with a quarter making similar progress in mathematics.nbsp;The outcome of 2003 tests should hopefully improve on this figure as the Strategy starts to have an impact.nbsp;However, to exhort teachers to consider a target of two levels of progress on all level 3 pupils runs the risk of missing some important and useful opportunities for a more differentiated and targeted approach.

A combination of Key Stage 2 test data, initial teacher assessments and, where available, cognitive abilities test data provides a good baseline for the setting early in Year 7 of end of key stage expectations for Year 9.nbsp;These data help to pinpoint which pupils have the potential to make faster progress than previously but also those for whom level 3 at the end of Key Stage 2 may actually have been a significant achievement.

In common with other LEAs, Hampshire will be following closely the progress of schools as they make complicated and sometimes difficult decisions about the use of the Intervention Grant in support of pupils' progress.nbsp;In respect of 2003 outcomes, although we will not be expecting to see that all pupils have moved from level 3 to level 5, we shall certainly be looking to see a further improvement (towards 100%) in the more modest but realistic expectation of pupils progressing from level 4 to level 5.

Alan Rawlings
Senior InspectorAdviser (Secondary) and Key Stage 3 Strategy Manager
Education Department, Hampshire County Council

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