Using Alps to drive school improvement at Key Stage 4 and 5
by Louise Umbers, Analytics Lead at Valley Park School
VIAT (Valley Invicta Academies Trust) consists of an exceptional cluster of primary and secondary schools at the heart of our local community, based in the Maidstone and Malling area of Kent. VIAT was legally established as a Multi Academy Trust on in March 2011. The VIAT Trust serves over 4000 children and young people aged 11-18. VIAT believes in the benefits of cross-phase education whereby all pupils, regardless of background, are taught a broad curriculum by specialist teachers across all ages; thereby enabling them to master the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their full educational and personal potential. Valley Park is a mixed secondary school with just over 1600 students on roll.
Use of Alps
We have used Alps at Valley Park for a number of years at Key Stage 5 level, for both target setting and data analysis. We have been able to ensure inspirational targets for students across their subjects and have recently expanded this to include Key Stage 4. This has enabled us to have a streamlined vision for students from the start of KS4 right through to the end of KS5 which, in turn, establishes continuity for staff and students.
The use of Alps by all staff, from Senior Team to Classroom Teachers, offers the ability to identify gaps in students’ performance as well as subject teachers’ performance. Making full use of the function to upload multiple data sets has enabled us to see trends across time whilst also comparing actual exam results from previous exam years to our students’ current levels, in order to establish whether they are on track to achieve similar outcomes. We have found the thermometer visuals easy to understand and interpret – with red being the best outcomes and blue being not so. Accompanied by a ranking number from 1 to 9 (with 1 being the best and 9 the bottom) it gives us a clear indication of where the student or subject currently is in relation to others. The ability for teachers to move this thermometer scale to see what needs to happen for grades and outcomes to improve is an amazing feature as it provides the teacher with the information needed to enhance the bigger picture for their subject and student. In addition to this, the “What if” function is available for student grades. This lets a teacher change a single grade for a student, either improved or worsened for the subject, to enable them to see the impact this would have on the overall picture for the class/subject.