At the New Forest Small School we assess all aspects of each child’s development, from the personal, social and emotional, to the academic. At staff meetings each child is discussed in a holistic manner. The school’s assessment procedures vary according to age and can be viewed in detail below.
Parents are kept informed of their child’s development and progression throughout the school year. However when we assess a child we always bear in mind that children develop in different areas and at different speeds. Also, we know from both research and experience that children often progress in stages, reaching a plateau before they move on to a new level. Therefore, none of our assessments are cast in stone. Often a subtle change in approach by the teacher can be enough to help the child move forward.
Tests & Exams
The children do not sit Standard Attainment Tests. (SATs) We use our own exam papers, for the older children, these are written by the school and are of a high academic standard. They are designed to be both enjoyable and to help prepare the children for GCSEs.
The main method of testing in the primary years involves tests in all subjects but in the format of games such as quizzes and challenges – these are immensely popular and are also very helpful as revision exercises. Pupils in the secondary classes are tested at the end of each topic area. However, as all lessons involve a considerable amount of discussion and hands on activity, it is always possible to know the level of each child’s understanding.
Homework is given regularly and gradually increases as pupils rise through the school. We always try to make sure that the homework is age appropriate and suitably challenging but that the amount of homework is never overwhelming. Children are also encouraged to continue at home with any ongoing project work.
Once pupils enter the Year 10 & 11 classes all academic assessment is centred around GCSEs. Homework is given for each subject every week and typically will result in a couple of hours of work per night.
In Year 10 pupils take end of year exams which cover the first year of their GCSE courses. This allows the school to assess what areas each pupil needs to develop and improve. Year 11 pupils also take mock GCSE papers in their final year, 2 months before their actual GCSE exams.
Although the focus in Years 10 & 11 is firmly fixed on GCSEs, other areas of development, such as personal and social issues / skills are constantly addressed where appropriate. This ensures that pupils feel supported and heard, which gives them the confidence and sense of well being to focus on their studies.
'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.'
GCSE grades have now switched from the old letter grades to numerical grades. Below is an approximate conversion chart between the old and new grades.
The numerical grades that pupils are given in each class are based on the expectations and general level of each year group. For example at the beginning of each academic year a pupil, who in the previous year was receiving high grades – 7, 8 or 9 – will need to adapt to higher expectations and harder work. Subsequently, as long as they progress as expected, it may take them a short while to gain these higher grades.
The school records the grades of each secondary aged pupil in each subject, including homework marks. These are available to parents upon request and are presented to parents at least once a year at the Parents Evening. Secondary pupils are given a monthly grade in each subject with a colour which denotes the level of effort both in class and in homework. So for example a pupil who struggles to achieve the higher grades may however achieve an overall ‘good’ if they have maintained high effort throughout.
For more details see our Assessment Policy.