Introducing Pupil Flight Paths:  A Guide for Parents

The education landscape has changed significantly over the past few years and will continue to change over the next few years.


The traditional GCSE grading system of pupils attaining lettered grades between A* to G at the end of Key Stage 4 will now be replaced by numerical grades of 9 to 1 (9 being the highest grade).


As of 2017, English and Mathematics will become the first subjects to award pupils using grades from the new numerical system.  In 2018 almost all other subjects will use the numerical system.


Also, schools will also no longer be judged on the proportion of pupils who achieve 5 A* to C grades with English and Maths but instead on the progress that is made in their ‘best 8 subjects’.  This measure is known as Progress 8.


The new national measures present great opportunities for schools to review and change how pupil progress is assessed and monitored on the academic journey throughout secondary school.


Context for Change of Approach

At St Gregory’s, we have studied two key reports which have informed the direction in which we are moving.  The reports point to a national issue with the Key Stage 3 curriculum not providing the perfect stepping stone to Key Stage 4 and the difficulty of assessing pupils in ‘levels’ such as 4a, 5c, and 6b in Years 7, 8 and 9 and then switching to ‘lettered grades’ in Years 10 and 11.

Both reports are accessible to parents via the links below:



Therefore, we have made the decision to prepare pupils for their end of Key Stage 4 examinations by using the new numerical system throughout their secondary school life and provide them with the correct skills, knowledge and understanding they will need to achieve success.


In effect, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 will merge into one Key Stage and pupils will be preparing for their examinations from Year 7 onwards acquiring skills relevant to their age and year group.


Pupil Flight Paths

From Year 7, each pupil will be placed on a ‘Flight Path’ towards a numerical grade at the end of Key Stage 4. 


The Flight Paths are determined by the performance data that pupils arrive with at secondary from the end of Key Stage 2 tests at primary school; the data is determined by SATs results in English and Mathematics.


There are a total of 15 different light paths all leading to a numerical target grade of between 9 and 1 ensuring a personalised pathway for pupils entering St. Gregory’s with a range of ability.  As a rule of thumb, flight path ‘7’ could be considered around the national average.


New Year 7 pupils (September 2016):  As of July 2016, secondary schools no longer receive a national curriculum sub level.  The sub level has been replaced with a scaled score from primary school.  The new scaled scores are between 80 and 120 and cover Mathematics, Reading, Spelling and Writing.


Our data team have converted the scaled scores in to an appropriate Flight Path for each pupil.  The scaled score for English is used to determine the English Flight Path, the scaled score for Mathematics is used to determine the Mathematics Flight Path and an average of the English and Mathematics scaled scores is used to determine a Flight Path for all other subject areas.


Current Pupils in Years 8, 9 and 10: All pupils in Years 8, 9 and 10 arrived at secondary school from primary school with a national curriculum level, typically a level 3, 4, 5 or 6 with Level 4 being around the national average. 


Our data team have converted these national curriculum levels to a numerical grade starting point which then determines an appropriate Flight Path for each pupil.


Pupils in Year 11:  Pupils in Year 11 will remain on the ‘old’ lettered grade system of A* to G grades for all subjects apart from in English and Mathematics, where in 2017 the new numerical system will be used.


Subject Progress Maps

In the classroom and in pupil books, teachers will avoid talking about levels or grades and instead advise on skills, knowledge and understanding so that pupils are not being overburdened numbers and letters and instead can focus on what is important.  Pupils will be told whether or not they are ‘Excelling’, ‘Above’, ‘On-Track’, ‘Borderline’ or ‘Below’ where they need to be.


Subject Progress Guides for Parents are available on the school website under the specific subject pages.  Here you will be able to see an overview of how progress looks in each subject.


Increased Challenge

Flight Paths are not set in stone for pupils. Every time there is a summative (termly) assessment in school, we will review whether or not a pupil can be challenged further and be placed on a revised higher Flight Path.  If it is deemed that a pupil can be pushed further, there will be an ‘informal’ agreement between the subject teacher, Pupil Progress Manager and the pupil as to what the new Flight Path will be; the original one will remain as ‘official’ on the schools’ data systems so that we can accurately assess pupils who are overachieving and those underachieving. 


Next Steps

Parents will receive a Progress Report, three times per year informing them whether or not their child is ‘Excelling’, ‘Above’, ‘On-Track’, ‘Borderline’ or ‘Below’ their assigned Flight Path. Parents will also receive one written report about their child’s progress and attend a Parents’ Evening to discuss progress in each subject with their child’s subject teachers on a one to one basis.

For further information, please contact the Pupil Progress Manager for your child.


Assessment Dates for Academic Year 2016/17