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Progress is like the holy grail for primary schools. 

Whether you’re in an inner city or leafy suburb, if pupils don’t make progress you’re in trouble. Even schools with healthy numbers of high attaining pupils have come unstuck in the past and been found to be coasting.

Under sub-levels there was a (fairly) global expectation of 3 points a year. A pupil gets a 2B in Year 2, gets a 4B in Year 6 and they’ve made expected progress. We all spoke the same language, but the system had its flaws, which is why it was dropped.

So what now? Well, after summer 2016 we finally got a glimpse of what schools were being measured against. In came Prior Attainment Groups, and at last some numbers to play with! Because we all love numbers don’t we? Key Stage progress nailed.

But what about in-year progress?

From our OTrack users, from discussions we have seen online, we generally tend to see the four following methods of showing progress:


The academic year 2014-15 was the last year that end of key stage assessments would be reported in the form of levels. The following year was one of OTrack’s biggest periods of growth in recent years, not surprising when we’ve always sold ourselves as customisable, exactly what the market needed in a period of change.

The first wave of schools that joined us wanted a points based system to replace levels. Completely understandable, given that the rug had been pulled from underneath their feet. Simple, break each programme of study down into 3 or 6 steps (one for each assessment point) and there’s your progress.

Then somebody went and mentioned greater depth didn’t they, and messed it all up. End of year expectation could no longer be point 6 on your 6-point scale, because that left no room for further progress. You couldn’t jump into the next programme of study, so that left a gap. What it also meant was that progress from last summer became tricky.

Some schools have got around this problem well, and continue to use points successfully by creating custom point scores, and having strict rules about what is a ‘secure’ or ‘greater depth’ pupil, for example.

But during that year we had identified that points-progress certainly wasn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

   Target Setting and Progress Assessments

Schools have been target-setting for years. Even when we had sub levels it was good practice to set targets. Not every child learns at the same pace. Some need to have more challenge and therefore more aspirational targets, whilst others should not be expected to learn as quickly as their peers. By setting termly targets, you are making them personal to that pupil. Each child then has a flight path for the year that is both aspirational and achievable.

A good assessment system should then be able to tell you what number/percentage of pupils have exceeded, met or not met their targets, and be able to display this information for whole school, year groups, classes or contextual and user-defined groups.

Another option is to let the teacher decide, when they enter an assessment, whether that child is making good progress or not. This could be based on triangulation of evidence, based on robust formative assessment, testing and teacher judgment.


The beauty of tracking standardised scores is that it can work in the same way as end of Key Stage assessments. We are finding that many headteachers are keen to use this method as a way of solidifying assessment within school.

The idea behind this method is that the teacher records a standardised score as an outcome of a test. The school decides which score is deemed to be age-related, and the tracking system does the rest. As we all know, different subjects are tested differently, with varied numbers of questions. So, tracking systems need to be robust enough to cater for this.

Recording scores from a test, of course, helps with moderation. Many schools suffered at the end of KS2 tests in 2016 because they didn’t have an accurate view of where pupils were at. By backing up teacher assessment with testing, the problems can be identified a lot earlier, and interventions put in place before it is too late.

Progress can be shown by maintaining scores or making improvements in the tests. A good tracking system will then be able to map this data back to Prior Attainment Groups to show that pupils are making good progress.

  Formative Assessment

Schools that use formative assessment well, can use this as a powerful tool to demonstrate progress.

It is massively reliant on a good volume of data being recorded, which in turn relies on teachers being able to engage with the software. When you get your curriculum right, and it suits the needs of your school, you can show attainment and progress across subjects and also aspects within those subjects. This can help with lesson planning and identifying the need for interventions, which in turn can only have a positive impact on children.

One thing is for sure. When schools are getting their HMI visits, good inspectors are asking to look at the books. That’s what real progress looks like.

So what next?

I will be holding a one-off webinar on Thursday March 22nd at 3.30pm in order to show you how these 4 methods can be utilised in OTrack. From data entry, through to report analysis, I will show you how the methods can work for your school, depending on how you currently assess. Some of the methods aren’t for everyone, but you will be able to see each in action and find out what are the best OTrack reports to use for analysis. You can register for the webinar here:  REGISTER

Matt Bramley

Phone 01302 360246
Matt has worked in education for a number of years and has seen many changes in that time. None more so than the removal of levels. He has been involved with OTrack during a great period of growth. Optimum now employ over 30 staff in our office at Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Are you already sick of hearing about GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May 2018 but it feels like we’ve been talking about it for years.

You can’t help but think that all those PPI companies out there, whose income stream is getting smaller and smaller, will suddenly become GDPR claim specialists!

What it means to us

The penalties for non-compliance are huge, 20 million Euros or 4% of your global annual turnover, whichever is higher. So companies up and down the country are spending vast amounts of money on making sure they’re compliant. We all just want to get on with the job, I’m exactly the same, but in all seriousness the Data Protection Act was long overdue an overhaul. If you think for a second that we’ve been adhering to an act that was 20 years old, it’s scary when you also consider the technological advances we’ve seen during that time.

We’re ready, are you?

The good thing about being a school software provider is that you’re already pretty clued up about data protection. OTrack holds the contextual information for pupils across over 1600 schools so we have to make sure we’re watertight. Schools on the other hand hold much more information about a child; where they live, telephone numbers etc. The data we hold for children has to be stored securely and I suspect schools will be looking for guidance on this, which is why we’re currently looking at ways we can support you all on this journey. Keep coming back here for further updates.

For more information on our journey

You can read our GDPR statement here

If you are interested in seeing what our Introduction to OTrack 2018 webinars covers, see the following itinerary.

Introducing OTrack 2018 Webinars


Firstly, a brief welcome and talk through how the upgrade of OTrack came about.

Analysis Dashboard


Explanation of the analysis dashboard showing subject ARE and expected progress analysis.

Assessment Data Entry

Assessment Data Entry

Entering data and mention of improvements that have been made to improve user functionality.



A look at some of the powerful analysis that our reports can provide.

User Management

User Management

Easy viewing of pupil contextual groups, concluding with how schools can now define users and manage passwords themselves.

OTrack 2018 has been developed using modern technologies, allowing us to lay the foundations for future innovations. Have a suggestion for an improvement for OTrack?Let us know – if it is requested by enough schools it is something we will consider making a permanent development.

If you have any queries about OTrack, please feel free to give us a call on 01302 360246 or email

The new primary curriculum has presented many challenges but has also opened up new opportunities for schools with effective assessment systems. Under the previous method of using sub-levels there was a tendency to try and push pupils through to the highest level possible in the shortest period of time, quite understandable with Ofsted breathing down your neck and progress being all about points.

We’re now in a situation where depth of knowledge is considered good progress. But how do you assess this? What sort of questions are Ofsted going to ask? This blog is intended to share with you some good practice on how to evidence attainment and progress without a points progress number in sight. Confused? Read on…


Triangulation of Test Score, Summative and Formative Data

Use OTrack reports to triangulate data from Formative, Summative and Test Score data giving a wide overview of your pupils’ learning.

Shown below are some common assessment methods and example reports.

Formative Tracking Formative – curriculum content A true assessing without levels system that allows you to plan and teach to pupils’ knowledge gaps. Essentially, this system ‘tracks the learner’, so planning and teaching can be targeted for pupils’ needs.

01 Depth of Knowledge
02 Depth of Knowledge Summary
03 Pupil Subject Development
04 Cohort Subject Overview

Test Scores Test Scores Show progression and attainment using Raw Score or Standardised Score outcomes using Tests.

01 Scores – Pupil Attainment and Progress
02 Scores – Mapping Against Expectation
03 Scores – Group Average Analysis 12.53.12

Summative Summative Show progression, attainment, depth of understanding using teacher assessment.

01 Current Attainment Venn Diagram
02 In Year Attainment Overview
03 Diminishing the Difference
04 ARE and Termly Target Analysis
05 Context Groups Attainment Summary

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