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About Idsall School

Idsall school in Shifnal is thriving comprehensive with over 1,300 on roll which in a recent Ofsted report was praised for the effectiveness of its teaching, and strong relationships between staff and pupils. Places at the school are sought-after and the school is always over-subscribed.
The Key Stage 3 maths team is in the process of implementing a new Scheme of Learning. One of the priorities has been to find an assessment approach which balances the requirements of SLT with needs and priorities within the maths department.
The school has recently trialled PUMA Key Stage 3 summer tests, with a view to adopting the assessments alongside their chosen maths scheme. 

Why did you choose PUMA KS3?

We wanted an independent assessment product which provides rigorous and valid assessment results. Over summer, we ran our normal scheme tests alongside the PUMA tests after to see which gave our kids the best experience and to evaluate whether they generated the data we need in the maths department. The feedback from pupils was positive: they preferred the look and feel of the tests to those provided by the scheme publisher. 

From a staff point of view, the one-mark questions make it easier to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of each pupil. Questions are short and sharp and test each skill separately so we’re not having to work out which part of the question relates to a specific skill, and what the student got right. I would definitely say it’s good for identifying gaps making it easier to plan the next steps in a pupil’s learning.

With PUMA its one test for all, which means it shows the range of abilities. The benefit of a common test is that it allows you to rank students’ abilities and that can really help in terms of setting.

How would you envisage using the tests?

The tests would be used for an end of term data drop. These sit alongside half-termly tests put together by staff drawing on questions from our scheme. In terms of expectations of management, we’re expected to do flightpath predictions, so we need to see whether the student is on track to achieve their predicted score.

We shared the test scores and test papers with the pupils, so that they could see their own strengths and weaknesses, to encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning.

How easy was it to use PUMA KS3?

From an administrative point of view, we found it easy and straight forward to use because of the way the paper and mark scheme is structured. There were a few staff concerns that we hadn’t followed the schemes of work that the tests were designed for, but I don’t think this caused any real issues. Generally the students that performed less well did so because they are our lower attainers, rather than because they hadn’t been taught the relevant content.

Based on an interview with Anthony, Head of KS3 maths at Idsall school in Shifnal