Update: 1pm Thursday 1st April 2021
We are now in possession of extensive Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) advice, guidance and requirement documentation that we will use to fine tune our proposed procedures for submitting grades for our 2021 leavers’ performance levels.
The expectations on schools to assess the performance of their year 11 students has not changed; we are required to assess the level students are working at rather than make any estimations. In addition, we are still expected to assess
enough of the course to ensure that any judgement is robust. Our overall approach to this task (Year 11 Assessment Plan Draft 8.3) has not changed, however, we have had to fine tune it based on the recent publication (28/2/21) of various JCQ documentation.
We are still organising Summer Assessments that will enable 2021 leavers to show us what they can do. The vast majority of these assessments will feature in the Summer Term and will be organised into a timetable that will be published soon. For any student who is entitled to additional time, this will be factored into their timetabled assessment slots. This approach enables students to plan their preparation and help them to focus on the particular set of skills and knowledge that they require in order to be successful in any given assessment.
The exam boards are beginning to release assessment materials for schools to use, and we are planning our Summer Assessments around these materials, focussing on what our 2021 leavers have already been taught. We are frustrated that materials have not been released more quickly, as that would help us to closely focus the boys’ revision and preparation. Wherever possible, we are providing clear guidance on which topics to focus on over Easter and into the Summer Term.
For most boys, we expect the Summer Assessment performance to be their best grade and will be the primary evidence that we will use to provide a judgement on student performance to the exam boards. However, where a student may not have produced his best performance or was not able to complete the Summer Assessments, we will be reflecting on his supplementary assessment evidence, that has been collected throughout the course.
There is now more clarity around this further evidence, and more information has been published about which type of evidence should be used. We remain determined to use the available evidence to demonstrate our boys’ best performance and we will ensure that this evidence meets guidelines, so that it does not jeopardise the authenticity of students’ grades, thus ensuring the validity of our data is secure. As soon as possible upon our return after Easter, we will share with you the data that we intend to draw from to make these decisions, to support collaboration and transparency.
A copy of our assessment plan can be found HERE
You can find an assessment record form HERE
Update: 10am Friday 12th March 2021
Although we are still awaiting further details from Ofqual and the exam boards, it is essential that we are prepared for the final weeks of our 2021 leavers. Therefore, we have devised a Year 11 assessment plan which should help all of us understand how our boys will be assessed and what we can do to help and support.
As soon as we have more information to update our draft, we will contact you again. We aim to make this process as clear, transparent and supportive as possible, within the constraints the guidance has established.
Click HERE to view our Draft Y11 Assessment Plan.
Update: 1pm Friday 26th February 2021
- This week's assessment window is going well
- Staff are organising teaching plans to provide in-class assessment opportunities for the boys when they return
- We are establishing our plans for future assessment windows and look forward to the more detailed guidance to help us in finalising these
- 18th June - the deadline for schools to upload performance grades, meaning that assessments will have to be completed prior to that. Due to the moderation required following the summer assessments, this means that the final assessments might be up to a week before the deadline of the 18th.
- 12th August - GCSE Results Day
Update: 11am Friday 12th February 2021
We would like to give the biggest ‘well done’ and a resounding ‘thank you’ to all of the parents and carers that have been supporting your sons in their remote learning this half term, whilst also doing all the other wonderful (and essential) things that you do! During the winter months, with the days being dark and cold, we know this has been more of a struggle than ever at times. We would, therefore, like to wish you all a peaceful half term - we hope it gives you plenty of opportunities to spend time with your loved ones.
It has been heart-warming to receive so many positive comments from parents and students about the benefits of the ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ last week. We received a wide range of examples of the positive activities that students took part in, some that we had suggested and others that were much more inventive!
Coronavirus Children and Young People Impact Survey
Birmingham City Council Public Health have announced that they intend to produce a Primary and Secondary coronavirus awareness video, along with a promotion campaign and associated resources. To tailor this to the needs of children and young people local to Birmingham, they have commissioned a survey of these key groups around the impacts of coronavirus upon their lives, attitudes and mental health.
The survey is anonymous and will not be traceable to your son. It is conducted online and should take around 20 minutes to complete. Please encourage your son to participate in order to help maximise the effectiveness of the resources. The survey can be found HERE and remains open until 5pm on 19th February 2021.
Year 11 Assessment Week 22nd-26th February
Year 11 students should now be in receipt of revision guidance from their teachers about how to prepare for the upcoming assessments after half term. It is important that they follow their teachers’ advice as this will help them to concentrate their efforts where they are needed and work on the areas that they need to show progress in.
We are now able to share more details about how the students will access their assessments:
- Your son’s normal timetable will be suspended to allow the assessments to take place
- There are two assessment start times only: 9.30 and 12.30, with no assessment on Monday morning
- Your son should log on to the Team for the subject assessment that is scheduled at the time it is due to start (see timetable attached)
- There will be a link to a Microsoft Form that will be clearly labelled and look something like that shown below
- Students should spend the directed amount of time completing each assessment before submitting their work
- They should submit their assessments as soon as they have completed and checked them.
NOTE: For Option subjects, where there is more than one group (e.g. there are three for History), students must ensure that they know whether each subject is Option A, B, C or D and log on to the appropriate Team. If students do not know which option block each subject is in, they can check on their timetable on Show My Homework (e.g. if their Food Technology lesson code is 11D/fd1, this subject is option block D).
Head of Year 11, Mr Hanson, has also created the video message below that students will be watching in form today. Click HERE to view the video.
In addition to spending some time preparing for their assessments, we hope that Year 11 students will have a well-earned rest over half term too. If you have any queries, please email: email@example.com.
Update: 11am Tuesday 5th February 2021
You will be aware that the consultation for the assessment of Year 11 students' grades has been taking place and that the final outcome of this is imminent. What was made clear in the undertaking of this consultation is that there will be some form of exam-type assessments that students will undertake in the place of formal, externally set exams, in May and/or June, around the same time that exams were scheduled to take place. These are likely to be internally assessed, but with a rigorous moderation process to follow.
We remain hopeful that we will be able to support students' grades in these assessments with evidence of their prior performance. For example, if a student under-performs in these final assessments, yet has been doing well previously, we would hope that we would be able to make a prediction for the final grade based upon evidence that has been more indicative of their capabilities, rather than on one final assessment. This is where the Assessment Week fits in.
We want to give students a chance to show their learning and progress in assessments that are more formal than their work in class, assessments that will provide evidence that we can use to support any judgments when assigning a final grade. These assessments will be internally moderated to solidify the validity of the results, and this is one purpose of the assessments. Another is to allow us to identify areas of learning where support is required for students to be able to perform at their best, so that we can work on helping them to improve in these areas before the final assessments.
With the ongoing uncertainty about when students will return to school, and with the difficulties that remote learning gives us, regarding the monitoring of students' progress, this is a good opportunity for students to test their knowledge and skills, and ultimately to know where to focus their attentions going forward.
We would like to reassure you that the revision tasks that students are being given for over half term will be carefully prepared to support them with their revision. We, like you, do not want to overburden students with massive amounts of work over the half-term holiday, so the guidance will be very specific to the topics being covered on each subject's assessment. We want to give students the chance to do well and to perform in line with their potential and are not seeking to catch them out in any way.
All of this will hopefully seem clearer once the revision tasks are given to students and they can see how manageable their revision is. At this time of year, Year 11 students would ordinarily be starting to prepare for their Pre-Public Exams which were scheduled to take place in March on the original school calendar. The upcoming assessments will lighten the revision workload to some extent as they will be given specific topics to revise, rather than not knowing what will be coming up, as they would in the PPEs.
Update: 4pm Tuesday 2nd February 2021
The upcoming Year 11 Student and Parents' meetings - Further information & guidance on how to book your meeting:
What is the meeting about?
The following agenda has been established to help structure the discussions:
- General catchup and wellbeing check in
- Remote learning - sharing engagement data
- PPE results and current progress
- Reference Grade discussion
- Assessment Week (22nd to 26th February)
Who is my meeting with?
Meetings are mainly being led by Senior staff. However, where there are pre-existing working relationships, those staff may take the lead. The text message you received should tell you who your meeting lead is.
When are these meetings being held?
Meetings are being held the week beginning 8th February. There are many available appointments during the day and some in the early evening.
How do I book an appointment slot?
Please call Reception from Thursday 4th February from 9am. Our reception team will be able to book an appointment for you. If none of the allocated appointment times are suitable, then your meeting lead will contact you to find a suitable time slot.
How long are they?
The appointment slots last 15 minutes, to enable us to ensure we can meet with all our year 11 students and their families that week.
How do we meet?
These meetings will be held on Microsoft Teams. Soon after booking your appointment time a meeting will appear in your son's calendar on his Teams account.
Update: 2pm Friday 29th January 2021
The consultation process for the awarding of Year 11 exam grades for 2021 is almost at a close, and we trust that you have taken the opportunity to share your views on this via the link you were sent last week. The Senior Leadership Team, Heads of Departments and teaching staff have all submitted their views which have your son’s best interests at heart and in the hope of making the process more manageable for our 2021 leavers. Until a final announcement about exams has been made, there remains a lot of uncertainty about what may happen and how grades will be awarded. However, we do now understand that there will be a regulated period of assessment during the summer term, and ideally, we would want students to be working at their best when this period arrives. We are almost certain that students will be required to sit a number of assessments which will give them the chance to showcase their knowledge and skills. We await the final guidance following the consultation period with earnest.
We remain confident that we will also be able to use internally assessed performance, where we can, to support students’ awarded grades, and with this in mind, there will be an Assessment Week for Year 11 students, following the February half term holiday. During this week, students will be set assessments that will allow them to showcase their knowledge and skills, giving them a chance to improve upon their previous performance. We are currently formulating a concrete plan around this and will share it with you as soon as it is finalised.
We understand that the grades that your son achieved in the December Pre-Public Exams (PPEs) may not necessarily be indicative of his potential or his final grades. Please do not panic if this performance is not where you (or he) would ideally want it to be. We are grateful that we have this robust and timely snapshot of student achievement but are well aware that when these exams were taken, with six months to go, students are not the finished article by any means.
To aid progress, we will need to prepare our boys for whatever eventuality they may face, which is why we remain steadfast in our stance regarding remote learning: every student should be fully engaging with their lessons and taking every chance they are given to improve upon their prior performance. We know very well what our KNBS boys can achieve – however, without putting in the hard work, they will not get there. This is not a time to be resting on their laurels; it is the time for hard work and endeavour, to ensure that they fulfil their potential. Your support and encouragement for your son are hugely appreciated. Where students are engaging with their teachers, asking questions, submitting work and acting on feedback, we are seeing positive gains in terms of their performance.
Year 11 Parents’ Meeting Week
We are pleased to inform you that in the week commencing 8th February, you and your son will be invited to attend a Teams meeting, via your son’s account, to discuss his progress and next steps. To avoid the potential difficulties in setting up virtual meetings with individual teachers, and to facilitate a broader discussion, there will be one meeting with an allocated Senior Leader We will be on touch next week to arrange a 15-20 minute appointment with you at a time that is mutually convenient. We are fully aware of the constraints that parents have upon them during school and working hours, so we will endeavour to be as flexible as possible when arranging appointment times.
At the appointment, we will discuss, amongst other matters, the following:
- your son’s PPE achievement and his current performance
- his engagement with remote learning
- possible reference grade ranges
- preparation for the upcoming Assessment Week
It is important that your son is present at this meeting and that he fully engages with the discussion. It would be helpful if he has information about 6th form or college courses that he has applied for or is hoping to, as this can be useful in helping us to agree his reference grades.
Post-16 Destination References
We are starting to receive reference requests from post-16 providers (schools and colleges) as Year 11 students prepare for the next stage of their education, and we are happy to support our boys as they take this important next step.
As part of the process, we are usually asked to provide predicted grades for the end of Key Stage 4. When calculating any future grades, we will always be optimistic and supportive of your son, in an effort to create future opportunities for him. At the same time, these grades need to present a realistic picture; we would be doing your son a disservice if we claimed that he was likely to achieve grades significantly above his current trajectory of progress. We do, therefore, want you and your son to be involved in this process and for there to be an open and honest dialogue about what grade ranges will be shared with post-16 providers; we know how important it is for you and your son to feel that you have some control over the future.
We would personally like to thank you all for your commitment to supporting your son in what continues to be an exceptionally challenging academic year. We will continue to work alongside you to ensure that your son has every opportunity to fulfil his potential, regardless of what the coming months may bring.
Mr David Clayton
Update: 11am Monday 18th January 2021
While things have been very tumultuous these past couple of weeks, including the notice of most Year 11 exams being cancelled, we are pleased to report that the consultation with schools regarding the process for awarding exam grades is now underway. We are starting to find out more about plans relating to this but there remains a lot of uncertainty. We are currently scrutinising the consultation documents and will be making detailed representation on the behalf of students, staff, and families. Until the consultation period is over and final decisions are made, we continue to take a broad and balanced approach to Year 11 learning to ensure that we are not curtailing our boy's outcomes, regardless of how grades will be awarded.
All Year 11 students need to continue to fully engage with their learning by completing their lessons and uploading the tasks being set for them. As well as teaching new content, teachers are providing opportunities for them to demonstrate their capabilities, and it is important that they make the most of these by doing their very best. This continuation of learning allows us to provide regular feedback about how they can improve, which is vital preparation, not only for the whatever type of assessment they may face in the absence of exams but also for the pathways that they follow post-16.
On this note, we are currently preparing sixth form and college reference documentation, including those all-important 'expected grades', although this is somewhat different to normal under these more challenging circumstances. Students should be giving careful thought to what they want their next steps to be and should be making applications. Most providers keep their applications open for many months, but some have deadlines which may be looming – for example, King’s Norton Girls’ Sixth Form closing date is 22nd January, which is on Friday. Despite working remotely, we remain on hand to offer support and guidance relating to post-16 choices. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via your son's form tutor, Head of Year or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if your son needs further help.
We understand how important the reference process is, so we want to ensure that we get this right, especially when so many things are up in the air right now. Once we have finalised our revised processes and protocols, we will be in touch to share these with you.
Update: 4pm Wednesday 6th January 2021 - Today's update comes with a feeling of relief as we welcome the Education Secretary's announcement that:
"Teachers, not algorithms, are to be trusted on exam grades."
It provides some reassurance that we will be able to avoid the chaos caused by the Government's approach to the awarding of GCSE grades last summer. However, we must now wait for the detail around how this will work. Once we have received this detail, we will share this information with you.
Until we have more information, we want to reassure our Year 11 students that the online teaching, videos, and assignments are being designed with teacher assessments in mind. We are determined to allow our boys opportunities to show us their very best. If they log into remote learning, engage with their teachers and complete these assignments, as many of them are already doing, they will be in a healthy position to move forward.
Update: 3pm Tuesday 5th January 2021
Further to our communication earlier today, what has now become clear is that GCSE exams, in their usual format, have indeed been cancelled. What is becoming clearer, although there remains no clarity on this, is that there will likely be some form of assessment in place of the exams, and we will be continuing in our efforts to prepare year 11 students for whatever the next few months may bring. It has been pleasing today to see that, despite the current uncertainty, huge numbers of students are continuing to engage with remote learning and their teachers, showing the ongoing commitment and resilience that we have come to expect from our KNBS boys. While none of this is as we would wish, be assured that we remain on hand to offer support and guidance, and we will update you of any changes when they happen.
Update: 8am Tuesday 5th January 2021
Dear Year 11 students,
I am sure that the recent and significant spike in transmission, leading to a national lockdown has left you feeling anxious. In our experience over the last 12 months the uncertainty is the worst thing, and last night's announcement from the Government left room for interpretation:
“In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.”
This has been reported in the media as "exams are cancelled", however, unless they have more information than us then I think we should wait and see the detail before jumping to any decisions. For instance, at 22:54 last night I received an email from the DfE informing me that BTEC exams planned for January would continue.
For now, we must work on what we do know. The Government has not ruled out all exams yet, and we await their consultation and the further detail that we know will come. They have also set out an expectation that Year 11 students will access remote learning; therefore, we can make reasonable assumptions that this period of remote learning does matter. We suggest that you throw yourselves into your studies and show your teachers just how committed you are to your learning.
In turn, our staff will do the best they can to prepare you for what faces you in the summer and beyond. We will continue to cover the range of skills you may need, and we will provide opportunities for you to demonstrate the levels of performance that you can reach.
Allow us to take a moment to reassure you all that the December exams remain an indicator of strengths and weaknesses. They will enable us all to enhance your performance levels. They are not the 'go-to-grade' if the school is tasked with submitting estimated or centre assessed grades in the future. We have a good understanding of our students and we understand that you are likely to make significant progress between those December exams and the final exams you were scheduled to sit in the summer.
In summary, our advice is for you to engage with your teachers remotely, show them how committed you are, and we will update you as soon as we know more.
Mr D Clayton