The Stephen Longfellow Academy is an integral part of The GORSE Academies Trust, and as such benefits from its strong relationship with The Morley, Farnley, and Ruth Gorse Academies, all of which are OFSTED Outstanding academies. The assessment policies used at TSLA are in line with those used at our partner schools, and as such we are confident that we will reap the benefits of their experience in the area of student assessment and tracking.

The unique status of TSLA within the Trust, as an Alternative Provision free-school established in 2017, means that assessment has had to be innovative. We are committed to developing bespoke assessment solutions to monitoring and assessing the progress made by our students. This makes us more than a passive partner in TGAT, and the experience and systems we have developed since opening have driven improvements and assessment evolution at Morley and Farnley also. The nature of our partnership is genuine and sharing.

Student Baselines

Assessment at TSLA forms a key part of our referral process. Commissioning schools provide detailed information regarding student progress and attainment, this is then supplemented by our own rigorous baseline assessment process where students will be asked to undertake an English and maths assessment. Progress Tests in English (PTE) and mathematics (PTM) are a standardised assessment of pupils’ technical English skills (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and reading comprehension. They are designed to support teachers in benchmarking student’s English and mathematics knowledge, and measure their progress over time. This can help in identifying those in need of extra help, as well as those who are particularly able. Further information on each of these tests can be found using the links below:

Progress Tests in English
Progress Tests in Maths

Once completed, the test outcomes are shared with teaching staff to support effective teaching and learning strategies for every student that joins the academy.

Target Setting

Target-setting is the next step for our assessment protocols. We take KS2 data and use it to set challenging and aspirational targets for our students in all years. This system is used by all the academies in the Trust and has been refined over a decade of sustained improvement at our partner academies. This matches our ethos of excellence and striving for the very best from our students.

At the start of the academic year, students are set two targets. A minimum expected grade (MEG) and an achievable target grade (ATG).  The minimum expected grade (MEG) is the minimum grade a student is expected to achieve by the end of this academic year (for years 7 & 8). Whereas the achievable target grade (ATG) is the target the student is set to motivate them to achieving beyond the minimum expectation. This is set for every student by the Assistant Principal. These grades are reviewed at the start of each academic year based on the progress made in the previous year. Target grade stickers are present in the back of all student books.

At TSLA we firmly believe that every child should fulfil their potential and consequently we have high expectations of what they will achieve during their time with us. We therefore use students’ FFT50 as minimum expected grade (MEG) and FFT50+1 as their achievable target grade (ATG), which will place the performance of that child in the top 20% nationally.


Assessment takes on a number of guises. It can be in the form of classwork or homework that has been designed to extend learning through “The Purple Zone”. This means that we see exceptional pieces of work in all subject areas and use them to establish the level of understanding of our students. The close partnership work established through Assessment Rubric Meetings and Core Binding Meetings within the Trust ensures that Directors of Faculty can share and disseminate materials used throughout the Trust. This allows us to make meaningful comparisons about the progress made on these tasks.

Assessment is more formally conducted using iterative tests and mock exams that have been centrally produced within the Trust by the partnership work of key middle leaders. These exams are standardised during Assessment Rubric Meetings, in order to set grade boundaries and ensure that alignment of teaching schemes has taken place. Following examinations, samples are moderated by Directors of Faculty from across the Trust in order to ensure the quality of marking and accuracy of assessment. This allows the Central Assessment Team to compare both attainment and progress of the students in all schools, and identify areas for improvement and where support is required with certain students or groups of students. By using this rigorous assessment process, we can guarantee that the work of students of The Stephen Longfellow Academy is in line with that of the students from our Outstanding and World Class partner academies at Morley and Farnley.

  • Removal of National Curriculum Levels at Key Stage 3

In order to fully encapsulate the progress made by the students at The Stephen Longfellow Academy, we have adapted the 9-1 grading system so that students who don’t yet have the skills to access Grade 1 are still assessed accurately and awarded an assessment grade at each assessment point. We have thereby extended the grading system at the lower end by including grades a-d. Each grade is divided into three subgrades –  for example, 5+, 5 and 5-.

If a student achieves grade: This indicates they have:
5+ Mastered the skills and knowledge associated with grade 5.
5 Secured the knowledge and skills associated with grade 5.
5- Developing the knowledge and skills associated with grade 5.

During the year there are three Assessment Points. These are formal points at which teachers assess the current attainment of the students and discuss with them how they can progress effectively to their target grade. This information is sent out to parents via post and shared with students in lessons in the form of highly impactful conversations (reflection weeks).

The Assessment Points take place at specifically calendared points throughout the year in order to align the process in all Gorse schools. This allows specific assessment tasks to be used and again standardised and moderated by Directors, with the quality of all work overseen by the Senior Leadership Team in school and across the Trust.

Following the assessment week students are receive feedback on their performance across each subject. This takes place in ‘reflection week’ where SMART targets are set for students to work toward.

We believe that this assessment structure is highly effective in changing and adapting to the challenges faced by a highly variable educational environment. We believe that this rigor, when applied to the work of our students, allows us to make confident projections of Progress 8, and support students in transitioning successfully into post-16.

Commissioning schools

Trust academies and other commissioning schools are dependent on TSLA for accurate assessment information linked to the attainment and progress of their students. This is unique to the Alternative Provision sector and we provide regular and detailed feedback to each commissioning school regarding each learner following each of our 3 assessment points during the year.

We believe that this assessment structure is highly effective in changing and adapting to the challenges faced by a highly variable educational environment. We believe that this rigour, when applied to the work of our students, allows us to make confident projections of Progress 8, and support students in transitioning successfully into post-16.