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Date of Policy: January 2024
Date of Review: September 2025

Key Stage 3
Assessment at KS3

Assessments at Key Stage 3 are called Key Assessed Tests (KATs). When students are assessed in class using the KATs, teachers are checking to see how much information pupils currently know, understand and can do of the curriculum covered. KATs are marked as a %. These %s are converted into a Benchmark.


The Benchmarks take into consideration the Scaled Score (SS) the child achieved at the end of KS2 and calculates whether each child is working ‘towards’, ‘at’, ‘above’ or ‘exceptional’ Benchmarks, defined by their prior attainment. Please use the table below to refer to the Benchmarks.

All students are expected to be working at least ‘At the expected Level’. Should a child be working ‘towards’ the expected level, the subject teacher or department will decide on an intervention strategy to support each child close any gaps in knowledge or skill

UML SS Working Towards Working At Working Above Exceptional
U 110> 0-49% 50%-69% 70%-89% 90%-100%
UM 99-109 0-39% 40%-59% 60%-79% 80%-100%
LM 90-98 0-29% 30%-49% 50%-69% 70%-100%
L 80-89 0-19% 20%-39% 40%-59% 60%-100%

If a child starts at Philips in KS3 without a KS2 score, the school will make an informed decision on a baseline score in order to track the progress of that child in all subject areas. This also includes the pupils who did not sit SATS due to Covid.

If a pupil is SEND, a bespoke baseline score might be used. This will be agreed by the SENCO and DHT (QofE).

Number of Assessment

The number of KATs per subject varies at Key Stage 3, as different subjects have different amounts of curriculum time allocated per week. The core subjects set between 3 and 6 KATs per year, other subjects complete either 3 or 4 KATs per year.

Assessment Format

In the written subjects, KATs will almost always be examinations. We are working to create KATs that promote long-term learning, helping students to know, understand and be able to do more in each subject, and retain this overtime. KATs are designed to not only test the latest knowledge and skills, but anything which has been taught previously. This requires students to continually review and go back to work covered across the whole year.

Assessments are therefore more challenging, but help to make ‘learning stick’. Rather than testing chunks of learning they have covered recently and will then not revisit, resulting in this learning being lost.

The practical subjects (Music, Drama, Art, Design Technology, Computing and PE) will assess the practical work which students produce. These assessments will often take place over a series of lessons, normally culminating in a final performance or piece of work. This is then used to assess a pupil’s benchmark.

Key Stage Four

Students complete up to six assessments per year, per subject. There are two types of assessment: Key Assessed Tests (KATs) and College Predicted Grade Examinations (CPGEs). Assessments that take place in the classroom are KATs. In January of Year 11, pupils will complete College Predicted Grade Examinations. The normal school timetable is suspended for two weeks and the CPGEs take place in the school sports’ hall to give students the experience of GCSE exams.

Target Setting

At KS4, the progress of pupils at Philips High School is judged against a pupils’ threshold target. The threshold target is an end of KS4 target based upon the child’s ks2 scores. In Maths the Maths KS2 score is used to create the threshold target. In English, the reading KS2 target is used to create the threshold target and in all other subjects, a combination of both the KS2 Maths and Reading Scores is used to create the Threshold target. The Threshold target is designed to achieve a Sisra SPI score of 0. This means that the child will achieve the National average grade, based on their own prior attainment as a minimum at GCSE Level or equivalent. The Threshold target is only shared with Staff and not the individual pupil. As above, if a pupil does not have KS2 results, they will be given a targets based on the school’s internal assessment data.

Pupils are given a Pupil Target. This is a challenging target, one grade about their Threshold target. All pupils in KS4 are given these targets at the start of the academic year. The targets are recorded in their planners. The Pupil target is designed to achieve a Sisra SPI score of 1.

If a pupil has SEND, the threshold target and pupil target will be agreed by the SENCO and DHT (QofE). Similarly, if the target is too challenging for any pupil, this might be altered to reflect a target which might be more appropriate for that pupil, while still remain aspirational.

If a pupil reaches their pupil target before the end of the year, the teacher will give the pupil a new pupil target where appropriate which will be written in their planner. The threshold target will not change. The new pupil target will not be given if a child attained the pupil target on just one occasion. There must be robust evidence of a secure grade.

What do the GCSE Grades mean?

In 2017 and 2018 GCSEs started to move across to the new reformed qualifications. At the heart of these changes, the curriculum content and assessment arrangements became harder and more challenging. There are now more exams and the exams for some subjects are longer. The old grades A* – G are no longer used for GCSE subjects. All subjects have a Grades 9 – 1 system. In ‘old money’ terms the GCSE Grade C is equivalent to a GCSE Grade 4 and a grade A is equivalent to a GCSE Grade 7. See to the right a conversion chart. Grade 5 is now considered to be the ‘strong pass’ at GCSE level.

GCSE Grade Boundaries

The most commonly asked questions by Key Stage 4 parents are about grade boundaries. Ultimately, grade boundaries are not fixed and have the potential, nationally, to move each year. Exam boards review grade boundaries annually, after student work is marked. At Philips High School, subject teachers make predictions as to what a pupil might achieve at the end of KS4. Our predictions are a ‘professional best guess’ at what a pupil might achieve at GCSE.

When is Assessment information reported?

At KS3 and KS4, KAT scores are reported to students, in class, as part of the feedback process. At KS3, the Benchmark scores will be recorded in the pupil’s exercise book or folder for the subject and can be viewed at any time. We will share the Benchmark scores with parents at the end of the Autumn Term and Summer Term. Parents will receive a Pupil Progress Report at the end of the Autumn Term and Full Progress Report at the end of the Summer term. Each report will list one Benchmark per subject. Both reports will also include attendance and Behaviour for Learning Scores. The Behaviour for Learning scores focus on Behaviour, Effort and Independent Learning. In the Summer Term, the Full Progress Report also includes targets for improvement.

At KS4, the parents of Year 10 pupils will receive a Pupil Progress Report at the end of the Autumn Term and a Full Progress report at the end of the Summer Term. The parents of Yr 11 pupils will receive a Predicted Grade report at the end of the first half term, a Pupil Progress Report after the January College Predicted Grade Exams and a Full Progress Report at the end of the Spring Term. The KS4 reports are similar to the KS3 reports, except instead of Benchmarks, they include predicted GCSE grades for each subject a pupil is studying.

How do I know my child is making progress?

GCSEs are hard work and require determination over an extended period of time. Students are not expected to achieve their target grades at the start of their studies but work towards them over the course of the two years. Please remember ‘learning is messy’ and performance goes up and down, depending on the topic and demands of the assessment. At Philips, we use predicted grades so that we report on the entire course and not just on elements.

On your Child’s Pupil Progress Report or Final Progress Report, we have included a difference column to help you understand how many grades they are from their target grade or how many grades they are above. Parents should use this when they discuss their child’s progress with their child.

Why is my child not reaching their ‘Working At’ Benchmark or target grades?

There are many ‘learning’ reasons why a pupil will achieve below their ‘Working At’ Benchmark or Target Grade. Some of the reasons include:

  • They many have been absent for a proportion of the work on the assessment
  • They may not yet have securely learnt all the required content
  • They may have not done enough revision to learn and memorise the information required
  • They may need more help to develop an effective revision strategy to prepare for KATs
  • They may know and understand the content, but have misinterpreted the question
  • They may have struggled with the timing or other exam skills required

Teachers are constantly reviewing the KAT scores using Question Level Analysis and planning learning and feedback opportunities in class to address these. If a KAT result highlights a potential issue, it will help to address this as early as possible.