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Ninestiles Academy Logo - PUMA KS3

About Ninestiles Academy Trust Limited

Ninestiles Academy Trust Limited is made up of eight academies across the West Midlands.  Jayne Smith, Trust Director of Mathematics is based in the Trust office at Ninestiles School, an Academy.  The Trust describes itself as fiercely ambitious for their students and checks their achievement and progress against the highest national standards. The three secondary schools are diverse in terms of student demographics, catchment areas, and school performance, although they share the common goals and vision of the Trust. Jayne’s role as Director of Mathematics across the Trust is to ensure that all students achieve their full potential in mathematics, and she is responsible for setting and implementing the maths strategy across all schools, as well as overseeing maths interventions.

Why did you adopt PUMA KS3?

Secondary school practitioners have found themselves in a strange situation: children arrive with their KS2 SATs, and then don’t take a national test for another five years. While the KS3 national curriculum sets out the content requirements, unlike the Primary curriculum, it is not year group specific, making it difficult to judge whether pupils are working at the expected level. PUMA will allow us to measure them against a national standard, so we know whether they’re on track, and to keep them focused and moving in the right direction. We need rigour and certainty, and we believe that PUMA will give us that peace of mind.

Because PUMA is also used by the primary schools in the Trust, PUMA KS3 will also give us continuity across KS1, 2 and 3, allowing us to track and monitor progress as children make the transition from primary to secondary. It has credibility amongst secondary practitioners because we’ve seen the good correlation between PUMA data and SATs results. In fact, the decision to pilot it was based partly on the recommendation of our primary colleagues.

Across the secondary schools there was a variability amongst teacher assessment, which meant that the judgement of children’s attainment or progress was not as accurate as we would have liked. Because we have always used common assessments across the Trust schools, we already have a common language of assessment, and well-established moderation processes. PUMA will give an objective picture of how students are doing, as it just measures accuracy. The age standardised scores enable the age of the child to be taken into account, ensuring Summer born children are not put at a disadvantage by being compared to children that could be almost a year older than them.

How PUMA is used

One of the benefits of being part of a Trust is the collaborative approach across all schools.  Amongst the secondary schools, this means we share a common curriculum. Pupils are assessed against a continuum of developing, assured and extended skills within the schemes of work. Initially we designed our own assessments, but realised we had no way of knowing whether we were working at national expectations with our children. Checking progress against national standards is vital. I’ve got no doubt that adopting PUMA KS3 will help us see which children are working towards/ working at or exceeding expectations for these key skills.

We also work closely with our primary colleagues, and I see all the PUMA data from our Trust primaries to give a richer picture of the children’s strengths, weaknesses and capability in maths.  For children moving from one of our primaries to one of our secondary schools, their PUMA data can now follow them, and, if required, be shared with the SENCo for remedial support.  Using the full suite of PUMA tests gives us the flexibility to support children working several years below their chronological age in maths and get a reliable score to track and monitor their progress as we aim to narrow the gap.   

However, not all children arrive from our Trust primaries, or indeed with KS2 data. We’ve therefore decided to use PUMA 6, the summer tests, as a baseline on entry to Y7 from the start of the 2018/19 year. This will be used to inform setting decisions and allow us to get going immediately with our maths curriculum as not all students join us straight away and it can take a while to receive the SATs data from our Authority. I’m also doing a personal research project looking at the maths topics that children regress in. I’m intending to use the baseline data to see which topics children are most likely to drop off in, and use this to inform our start of Y7 SoW.

One of our schools has relatively high levels of student mobility, and again, for students arriving part way through a year in KS3, PUMA gives a steer on where to place them, and how to support them.

Looking ahead

We’d ultimately like to be able to make predictions about the likely GCSE outcomes for our children, and use it to track their flightpath so if they start to dip, we can pick them up and ensure that they remain on track with extra support to make sure we’re going to the best results we can for them.

We’ll be sharing our experience of using PUMA KS3 with other schools in our area, who I know are interested in adopting high quality standardised tests, with a view to improving the quality and rigour of their assessment process.

Based on an interview with with Jayne Smith, Trust Director of Mathematics, Ninestiles Academy Trust Limited