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Key Stage 3 assessment

Changes to KS3 assessment

KS3 is the stage in each child’s education covering Years 7, 8 and 9 in secondary school.

Following the 2016 changes to the KS3 National Curriculum, the ways in which schools measure pupil progress is changing across the country. We have developed a new approach to monitoring progress in KS3 which was launched in September 2016.

Students entering KS3 no longer receive National Curriculum levels (expressed as 4a, 5b, 3c etc.) from their KS2 (Primary School) tests. Students leaving KS2 in 2014 and 2015 received what was called a ‘KS2 Fine Point Score’ (KS2 FPS) and students leaving KS2 from 2016 received a standardised score (with a score of 100 or more being a pass). These were based on tests taken at the end of year 6.

The removal of the assessment system at KS3 called ‘National Curriculum Levels’ was a governmental decision. Part of this decision was to require schools to create their own assessment schemes to track and monitor student progress. We have developed an approach called “BASE” which stands for Banded Assessment of Student Expectations.

KS3 - Learning Bands

The new BASE Bands and associated curriculum content have been designed to give students a key understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to get ready for GCSE, as well as streamlining and focusing on mastery of the current curriculum.

Students are given a target BASE Band at the beginning of Year 7 for English, Mathematics and Science. This is because we have the most information for these subject areas on which to make informed decisions. All other subject areas make a decision on band placement through Year 7 as we begin to see how students are responding to the curriculum. Our website contains the “Secure” end-of-year attainment descriptions for each subject area. The allocation of BASE bands is addressed in the next section of this document.

The BASE bands have the following names:

  • Stretching (most challenging)
  • Extending
  • Securing
  • Developing
  • Emerging
KS3 - BASE Band Allocation

Students joining Year 7 from 2016 will be placed into their English, Math’s and Science BASE bands in early October with reference to a broad range of data. We draw on their detailed KS2 SATS testing results, a nationally standardized baseline test we carry out in September called CATS and a further nationally benchmarked test taken in early October called GL Assessment. While not an exact science, we consider carefully the picture emerging from this data to arrive at what we feel will be a challenging BASE band for each student. The testing data, along with an explanation of what each test covers and the allocated BASE bands are shared with Year 7 parents in early December.


The three standardized tests are described below:

KS2- Information from primary School

This shows the results of the KS2 (end of primary school) national tests. This is in the form of a “scaled score” for English, Mathematics and Reading. The scaled score has 100 as the governments expected pass mark and the test results are within the range of 80 to 120.

CATS (Cognitive Ability Tests) scores

All students in Year 7 sit a range of tests called “CAT” which stands for The Cognitive Ability Tests. This is designed to give a measure of a student's reasoning (thinking) abilities. The tests are taken early in Year 7 and give useful information that we can share with teachers to best support your child’s learning. There are four pairs of tests which assess different aspects of a child’s ability. The first tests deal with “Thinking with words” in which students identify words with similar meanings. The second set of tests deal with “Thinking with numbers” in which students complete number series and look for relationships between numbers. The third set of tests is “Thinking with shapes” and students look for shapes with similar properties. The final test is “Thinking with shape and space” in which students look at folded shapes and pick out patterns. In the same way as the primary school tests, a standardised score (SAS) is given for each of the four sections and also as an overall score.


GL Assessment scores

To give us more information about how your child makes progress through years 7 and 8, we also use a nationally benchmarked Progress Test Series called GL Progress Assessment. These are used at the start and end of Year 7 and again at the end of Year 8 for Maths, English and Science. They also provide useful information on potential barriers to learning which are shared with teachers. The GL assessment scores use the same standardised format as CATS scores.


KS3 – Progress

Students will be assessed in a range of ways in each subject area. Each assessment outcome is divided up into the BASE bands and a students performance is checked against their target band. As the work encountered becomes more challenging, remaining within a band is deemed as making good progress. The level of challenge between each years is also significant, so that ‘Emerging’ in Year 8 is more challenging than ‘Emerging’ in Year 7.