Assessments and Examinations

At Dolphin, both children and staff develop a real love of learning. Our curriculum is challenging and innovative, allowing children to experience hands-on learning, providing plenty of opportunity to discover and explore their environment through our exciting extra-curricular trips and Forest School programme. By the time they leave us, each pupil will have taken an individual academic journey but our overriding philosophy is clear from the outset: that they will fulfil their true potential, add value to their lives, and feel confident enough to use their voice.

Our View on Assessment:

We are clear that, in line with our ethos and the aims of Dolphin School, our first priority is to provide a stimulating and challenging all-round education, whilst taking care to nurture each individual in order to maximise their learning potential. We pride ourselves on allowing children the freedom to discover and explore their own strengths and talents, whilst guiding them towards excellent academic achievement.

We monitor each child’s progress throughout the year using a range of assessments, the results of which are used to add clarity to our understanding of their progress and potential. It is important to bear in mind that whilst assessment data gives an indication of progress, the data is just one snapshot of a child’s Dolphin journey; assessment data is always viewed in the context of the ‘whole child’ and as a starting point for discussion. Our main aim is to assess learning, NOT performance of short-term memory.

See below for more detail about standardised testing and ongoing tracking of our children.

1. Formal Standardised Testing (marked externally):

A. Cognitive Ability Testing (CAT4) – Autumn Term

Cognitive Ability Testing gives an indication of each child’s innate ability and the way in which they are able to think in areas that are known to make a difference to achievement. It can be thought of as a blue-print of their current cognitive profile – their strengths and weaknesses and how their minds are hardwired to think. Cognitive Ability Testing takes place annually in Years 5 & Year 7, within the first half of the Autumn Term.

B. Standardised Testing in English and Maths (PTE & PTM) – Summer Term

In the summer term, each child from Year 2 to Year 6 takes formal assessments in Maths and English. These are marked and analysed externally. These assessments give us a measure of the child’s current level of attainment as a ‘Standard Age Score’, which gives a comparison with a nationally representative sample of children of the same age. It also allows us to measure their progress against their previous year’s tests. This data is used internally to reaffirm what we already know about their ability and achievement.

C. Dolphin Exams and Project Qualifications - Summer Term

We use Common Entrance as a base to set our own Dolphin Exams each year. Our Y7 & Y8 children write exams in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, French, Spanish and Latin during their exam week in May. Our Y5 and Y6 children sit a smaller, more informal set of exams in June. All children complete a Dolphin Project Qualification (DPQ) during the year too, which helps them to develop their real-life skills such as collaboration, creativity and communication. 

2. The Tracking of Pupil Progress Throughout the Year:

Each child’s progress and development is consistently monitored by their teachers. Every activity is an opportunity to observe progress, be it a discussion, a social interaction, a class assembly, an activity in the classroom or homework. Our staff also engage in regular ‘Pupil Progress’ meetings to ensure there is constant conversations about al our children and their ongoing performance socially and academically. 

In order to have some vocabulary with which to discuss a child’s progress, we carry out termly assessments which are marked internally using a system of graded levels.The NFER reading tests are carried out annually and children are tested on the relevant part of the diagnostic spelling test at the beginning of each half term. Reception children are tracked continually against the Early Learning Goals and this information is readily shared with parents during Parents’ Evenings and in written reports.

Parents of children in Year 3 – Year 8 are informed each term of their child’s Approach to Learning and Attainment levels in all subjects, via grade cards, parents’ evenings or full written reports. These levels are based on work in the classroom as well as assessment results.