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Teaching and learning

How we teach

At Hope Valley College, we aim to inspire and nurture every individual student to be the best they can be. This means we have high expectations for all of our young people.

Our teachers are experts, passionate about their subjects. Through our programme of professional learning, we continually develop our teaching and support staff to ensure they can deliver an ambitious and inspiring education, tailored to the needs of Hope Valley College students.

Our teaching is responsive. This means that we use a wide range of student responses to plan and adapt teaching in order to ensure that all students fulfil their potential. We plan our questioning and assess carefully so that we can check for understanding, challenge misconceptions and engage all of our students in the next steps of their learning.

We explicitly teach vocabulary so that students have the language skills they need to access the ambitious curriculum offer. All teachers are trained to meet Special Educational Needs: in partnership with our teaching assistant team, we scaffold and support students so that they can all aim high.

We work to ensure that students remember more of what they have learned. We use retrieval practice strategies including low stakes quizzes and self-testing homeworks so that students practise the skills they have been taught and embed the understanding they need for success.

You can read more about the curriculum that we offer on our curriculum page.


How we assess students

At Hope Valley College, we assess work in order to:

  • Give students a clear understanding of the knowledge, skills and understanding that they will learn.
  • Support students, over the course of a carefully constructed series of lessons, to learn the appropriate knowledge, skills and understanding to make progress.
  • Provide students with clear feedback about the knowledge, skills and understanding that they have developed, and the areas in which they need to improve.

We assess the learning of students in two ways, which act as two separate layers of assessment. These are as follows:

  • Formative: ongoing, ungraded, and focused on smaller sections of the curriculum.
  • Summative: summative assessments will usually take place two or three times per year, and these may take the form of mock exams, a test, an assessed piece of writing or practical work as appropriate to the subject. Knowledge included will build cumulatively through the year.

How do we judge the starting points of students?

We use Fisher Family Trust (FFT) software, which provides all key benchmarking data based on key stage 2 SATs results and other information about the student’s progress at key stage 1 and key stage 2. The FFT benchmarks, including target grades for every subject, are based on how similar students nationally performed in the subject last year (similar students are defined as similar prior attainment, gender and month of birth). We share FFT benchmark data with students and parents in Year 9.

In addition, all Year 7 students undertake cognitive ability tests (CATS). These are assessments that identify students’ strengths, weaknesses and learning preferences. CATs are not about knowledge recall and require no preparation. They offer all students the same opportunity to show their underlying ability. CATs give a detailed profile of students’ verbal, non-verbal and quantitative abilities and the result data can be used to build an understanding of a student’s potential and learning style. In turn, this is used to inform the development of effective teaching and learning that meets the needs of students.

We do not assign target grades to students at key stage 3 as we do not want to put any limits on their aspirations, nor do we share target grades and outcomes from FTT or CATs until they support curriculum decisions (see below). We want to encourage the mind-set where all students strive for excellence and maximise their achievement across a broad curriculum.

This is only a start point. Our goal is to make sure that every child achieves their full potential across a broad, balanced, rich curriculum

Attitude to learning (ATL)

We believe that to learn successfully, students need to be ready to learn, resilient, resourceful, respectful and reflective. These are the five characteristics of good learners and students who are consistently demonstrating these characteristics and will progress well in school. Each half term teachers give students a numerical grade (1-4) which demonstrates their attitude to learning in each subject. These grades summarise the extent to which each student is demonstrating the five characteristics of good learners.  You can find out more about ATL, and how the ATL grades ar calculated on our attitude to learning page.

Measuring academic progress

All subjects will use responsive teaching strategies and summative assessment to drive the academic progress of all students. This is benchmarked against GCSE potential grades, and based on key subject specific knowledge, skills and application. At key stage 3, this data is collected at the end of each academic year and is not shared with students or parents.

At key stage 4, students' work is marked in line with GCSE or equivalent specification mark schemes. Alongside any assigned attainment grades, high quality formative feedback will also be given in line with the marking policy. Departments will also undertake moderation and standardisation to ensure accuracy and consistency of marking. We report an academic progress grade and potential grade for all subjects at two points in year 10 and year 11. The academic progress grade is known as a ‘most likely outcome’ ie, the grade that the student will achieve - if they continue to work as they are doing currently. The potential grade, generated by FFT, should be viewed as a minimum grade and we expect all students to achieve or exceed this.

Reporting to parents and carers

We report ATL grades five times per year, at the start of each half term.  At key stage 4, in addition to ATL, we also report academic progress (most likely outcome) and potential grades. We share potential grades with Year 9 parents after Christmas as they start the options process.

Examples of reports 

ATL report example:

Click image for further ATL information

ATL report example

Academic progress report example:

Academic progress report

FFT benchmark report example:

FFT benchmark report example