Assessment and Personalised Learning in GCSE in 5 Easy Steps

If you teach GCSE PE and you’re anything like me by this point you are more nervous about next summer’s exams than the pupils currently are. The first round of predicted grades have gone in and you’re having to justify pupil’s current levels of progress and suggest who might not get their target grade in 6 months time.

During the past 7 years of teaching I’ve had a year 11 GCSE PE class for 5 of these. I’ve had chance to gradually refine how I support these pupils in the lead up to the exams and now, for the first time, I think I have a relatively effective system.

In my first year of doing this I taught the syllabus through to moderation day and then spent 6 weeks revising 2 years of information, which went at such a pace it left most of the class frantic and panicking. The next group I got I began revising topics towards the end of year 10, which was equally as ineffective as they weren’t stressed enough- a year is a long time in a child’s eyes and they thought they had plenty of time to ‘catch up’.

Through trial and error I think I’ve found a good system for identifying underperformance and supporting learning throughout the course.

Step 1

All pupils are given a realistic target grade. Don’t just accept FFT (Fisher Family Trust) or other fancy ways of predicting Key Stage 4 results, use a combination of practical grades (average of best 4 normally works well as it translates to GCSE performance) and computer generated target grades to ‘argue’ realistic grades for your pupils.

Step 2

Translate these into theory target grades. Use last years grade boundaries in the GCSE Marksheet to calculate what percentage the pupil must get on the theory paper(s) to reach at least their target grade. This is important as it will form the basis of all end of topic exams.

Step 3

After every end of topic test get pupils to write on the top corner of their exam how long they spent revising for the test.

Step 4

Produce the following documents and display them somewhere prominent where the GCSE pupils will see them regularly

– Grade and Revision Table– shows a comparison to the percentage they got on the exam and how long they spent revising (don’t worry if they got 95%, but only spent 5 minutes revising!)

Grade and Revision Table

– Progress Table- shows the percentage achieved against the percentage required to achieve their target grade. Red= underachieved by 10% or more, Amber= Underachieved by less than 10% and Green= Achieved on target or above.

Progress Table Example

– Revision Surgery Dates- display a day of the next week when pupils can come to an allocated class room and revise specific topics with teacher support. Pupils don’t have to attend every day. Once they’ve checked through their exam paper (an important part of this process!) then they decide which lunchtime surgery sessions they need to attend. It’s personalised to them and based on their independent analysis of their exam paper.




Step 5

Once pupils have re sat the test you’re then in a position to review learning and target set ready for closer to the exams. I have recently started using an adapted version of PiXL’s PLC’s (Personalised Learning Checklist) that our school have started using in Key Stage 5 (see below)

PLC Example


Using this pupils can go back through their end of topic test judge what they did well on (Green) what they have a limited understanding of (Amber) and where they lost significant marks (Red).

Remember earlier I said “don’t worry if they got 95% on it and only revised for 5 minutes”? A few years ago I would have told a pupil that they weren’t taking revision seriously enough if they only revised for 5 minutes. I’d say things like “you won’t do that in the real exam!”. Actually, fair play to them! If it’s a topic they understand, do well on and tick mostly green boxes on their PLC’s then we’ve established that this shouldn’t be a huge area of focus for their revision leading up to their final exam(s).

This shouldn’t replace the revision sessions or any other intervention that you want to run in the stressful run ups to the final exam(s), but it will reduce the amount of ‘fire fighting’ you have to do in the January to April run up to GCSE exams.

This method isn’t fool proof and it won’t get a pupil from an E to a C, but what it can do it give pupil’s realistic targets throughout the two years they study GCSEs. It supports the pupil on an on going basis and not just when their performance is beyond help and it can make them accountable for their own learning and revision and help them prioritise revision closer to the final exam(s).


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