Setting aspirational targets for students in Trusts with the help of CAT4 and FFT

Meridian Trust is an all-through, inclusive Trust of two special schools, 14 primary schools and 12 secondary schools based in the East of England. The Trust was formed in 2011 out of Swavesey Village College with an ambition to provide high quality education at the heart of local communities. Andrew Daly, Executive Principal (Secondary), explains how the Trust has benefited from using CAT4 data alongside FFT Aspire to ensure students are supported and challenged in a targeted and effective way.

Meridian Trust started from the work of Swavesey Village College and built on the success of this outstanding school, which delivered not only an excellent breadth and depth of education, but also great results for students to ensure high levels of progression to further and higher education and training. Some of the success of both Swavesey, and latterly the Trust, has been down to the careful and considered use of data to support target-setting and achievement.

Ensuring that students and all those supporting them have clear and transparent targets that are set with their active involvement has been pivotal to our approach. In our secondary schools, data from GL Assessment’s Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4) is triangulated with prior attainment data from Key Stage 2 SATs to ensure that students who may have underperformed in these formal assessments are still supported and encouraged to be aspirational. 

As a cognitive abilities test, CAT4 can help to identify where students may have untapped potential that has not previously shown in SATs or other attainment assessments. As well as helping to set aspirational targets owned by all stakeholders, CAT4 provides our teaching and support staff with valuable information about where individual students may need additional support due to particular strengths or weaknesses based on their performance in the different batteries (Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, Spatial Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning). This has helped our SENDV (which includes Vulnerable where students might be identified for another reason beyond Special Educational Needs or Disability) teams to identify particular students’ needs early and provide timely support and intervention as necessary.  

Key outcomes:

  1. 1

    Identify where students may have untapped potential that has not previously shown in SATs or other attainment assessments

  2. 2

    Triangulate with prior attainment data from Key Stage 2 SATs to ensure that students who may have underperformed are still supported

  3. 3

    Compare different cohorts to identify where larger gaps are emerging in terms of student potential and where there are significant differences to prior cohorts in the same setting

Ensuring that staff and students are not just presented with grades as targets that have been automatically generated is something we are passionate about, as target setting is only powerful if it is a process done collaboratively between students and their teachers and owned by all.

Andrew Daly, Executive Principal (Secondary), Meridian Trust
Dashboard

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Using CAT4 in the GL/FFT Transition Service

The GL/FFT Transition Service, provided via FFT Aspire, has allowed us to upload our CAT4 data to Aspire and produce FFT indicators, which has been very helpful throughout the last two years. It has meant that staff at different levels can interact with a familiar interface and target-setting process to ensure that students starting in Year 7 with limited information from any formal assessment can still be supported and challenged in a targeted and effective way. 

The information from CAT4, as part of the Transition Service, has been invaluable – not just in terms of being able to continue to set clear, aspirational targets for all students, but it has also continued to help us identify where there might be gaps in students’ abilities which require additional intervention and support. Using the data from across the Trust and comparing different cohorts has enabled us to identify where we needed to target additional resource, or where larger gaps were emerging in terms of student potential and where there were significant differences to prior cohorts in the same setting. All of the data has been useful in presenting us with questions to consider, rather than giving us hard and fast solutions.

We look forward to being able to compare our Key Stage 2 SATs and CAT4 data in FFT Aspire this Autumn – the first time CAT4 and KS2 SATs data will be displayed on a single platform - so that we can continue to use our data in an intelligent and nuanced way. This will allow teaching staff access to a range of robust and accurate information when making decisions about student’s potential. We are looking closely at the need in some schools to use CAT4 again in Year 9 (which we have not done in recent years) to reassess the progress made since returning from the pandemic disruption and ensure that the targets set will genuinely stretch all of our students.

We would highly recommend ensuring that all staff understand what sits behind the data from CAT4 and provide appropriate training and support to all colleagues, so that they can use the data in an informed way. This, alongside the data provided from the Progress Test Series and internal assessments, will help to build a full picture of student potential and progress. 

Ensuring that staff and students are not just presented with grades as targets that have been automatically generated is something we are passionate about, as target setting is only powerful if it is a process done collaboratively between students and their teachers and owned by all.

Swavesey Village College is one of our Centres of Assessment Excellence