Using Alps as a high impact assessment and reporting tool

9th June 2023

by Ed MacLeod, Vice Principal – Head of Beal Sixth Form

With the largest school sixth form in the country, Beal High School (part of the Beacon Multi Academy Trust) is a fully comprehensive, diverse and inclusive Academy serving our local community in East London. Offering an ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum, we deliver over 60 programmes of study across key stage 4 and 5, encompassing three academic pathways across two sites. We have been using Alps as a high impact assessment and reporting tool since 2010 to maximise outcomes for young people through raised aspiration, accountability and equality of opportunity. Out of annual cohorts of 400 school leavers, over 25% annually secure places at elite, high tariff Russell Group universities (including Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College) with over 55% at ‘Top Third’ institutions, with others undertaking competitive degree apprenticeships and other prestigious employment and training routes. Alps plays an essential part in this success as it helps schools to challenge fixed mindsets to be ones of growth, resilience and perseverance; when progress is celebrated above raw attainment, it connects with our ethos as a school, where students are given the support to achieve well above national expectations whatever their starting points and with 100% progression secured for all. 

High Impact

The challenge for a large sixth form is to ensure that grading projections are accurate and fair, particularly when there are large cohorts of as large as eight or nine separate teaching sets across sites where variance can emerge. Post-16 published projected data becomes ‘high stakes’, linking to future aspiration and UCAS and degree apprenticeship applications as well as individual student self-esteem, so this process must be objective and based on collective professional judgment and robust quality assurance protocols. Students, parents and carers rightly demand accuracy and fairness and can at some schools seek to apply pressure to influence grading decisions. Alps use of national datasets greatly helps here as it gives schools the power to conduct robust learning conversations and intervention based upon prior performance and expected flightpath trajectories. It is a powerful performance tool and when used to its full potential offers very good value.

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