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 became 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 have presented 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 is 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 9 different flight 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 ‘5’ could be considered around the national average.


New Year 7 pupils (September 2017):  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.


Pupils in Years 8 and 9 have already been placed on flightpaths at the start of the 2016-17 academic year. As part of the refining of the flightpath system, we have simplified the 15 flightpaths to 9 to replicate the journey that the pupils take to reach their destination target at the end of Year 11. The new simplified flight paths can be summarised as follows.





(2017 ONWARDS)

15 9
14 9
13 8
12 8
11 7
10 7
9 6
8 6
7 5
6 4
5 4
4 3
3 2
2 1
1 1

Each pupil will receive a flightpath target which has two numbers. E.G. 7.5 or 8.6 or 9.7


The first number corresponds to the year group the pupil is in and the second number signifies the numerical grade we are targeting the pupils to achieve in those subjects at the end of year 11.   


Pupils in Year 10 and 11:  Pupils in Year 10 and 11 will remain on a combination of the ‘old’ lettered grade system of A* to G grades for a few subjects and the new numerical grades system will be used for the majority of subjects. This means that they will not be on a flight path but have an individual target grade or numerical grade for each subject.


An example of a pupil with a target of grade 6 at GCSE


To work towards achieving a Grade 6 at GCSE we would expect the pupil to make the following progress.

At the end of Year 7 – to achieve a Progress Grade Y7.6

At the end of Year 8 – to achieve a Progress Grade Y8.6

At the end of Year 9 – to achieve a Progress Grade Y9.6


This pupil would follow the Grade 6 Flightpath throughout years 7-9 and their target will be to remain on this flightpath as the level of challenge will increase each year, enabling them to build the skills knowledge and understanding appropriate to their target. The flightpaths are best demonstrated on the Progression Grid below.


Subject Progress Maps

The flight paths have been designed so that the knowledge, skills and understanding become more challenging every year, helping the pupil to deepen their learning and to reach their target at the end of year 11. In the classroom and in pupil books, teachers will advise on the skills, knowledge and understanding that pupils can focus on building their skills and experience to meet their targets.  Each term pupils will undertake an assessment to determine the progress they have made and areas for further focus. The teacher will grade the assessment in line with the criteria for the individual flightpath which will be stuck in each pupil’s book. Pupils will be told whether or not they are ‘Excelling’, ‘Above’, ‘On-Track’, ‘Borderline’ or ‘Below’ where they need to be, and can clearly go on to identify the skills they need to develop to progress to the next level.


Subject progress and assessment guides for Parents are available on the school website under the specific subject pages and are also in pupil books.  Here you will be able to see an overview of how progress looks in each subject.


Increased Challenge

The minimum expectation is that each pupil remains on this flight path throughout their time at St Gregory’s, but as ever 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.  Written feedback from teachers will clearly identify where pupils can develop their understanding and skills and challenge pupils to demonstrate this in their next assessment.


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 2017/18

7 8.11.17 7.2.18 13.6.18  
8 15.11.17 7.3.18 27.6.18  
9 1.11.17 7.2.18 23.5.18  
10 1.11.17 14.2.18 3.7.18  
11 18.11.17 8.1.18 7.3.18 9.5.18