Secondary schools often come to me and ask me to ‘do something’ with assessment manager. Often they’ll be using Excel to run a pupil tracking system and they will have run up against the limits of Excel.

At the first meeting we usually talk about target setting. Schools normally want to set a target based around a KS2 result or some kind of baseline test in Year 7. I usually suggest that we create a marksheet that allows teachers to set a target for Y9 summer term. The marksheet can also display the Ks2 result, the ks2 result plus 12 points, the FFT D estimates, and a CAT test result. This extra information helps to inform the teacher’s decision. Once the teacher has decided on a final target, the marksheet will calculate targets for each term leading up to KS3.

Once termly targets are set we start to talk about the way to track pupils as they progress towards the targets. Some sort of ‘traffic lights’ or ‘ragging’ system is usually preferred. If we set termly targets this is straightforward. Just compare the termly target with a teacher assessment and set the colours to green, red or amber as appropriate. Some schools need something more sophisticated, if so, we can calculate how many points a pupil is from their target and possibly introduce a fourth color for pupils who are just below their target.

To finish off we might consider adding columns that show how many point progress a pupil has made over the last 12 months – always useful during performance management meetings with staff.

These facilities, plus the standard functions built into every SIMs Assessment Manager marksheet, provide a good, robust tracking system that provides for the needs of teachers, senior managers, SIPs and OFSTED.