I’ve just finished designing KS3 and KS4 systems for a couple of secondary schools. By their very nature they are big, complex beasts, so here’s my top tips:


  1. You’ll need help. Most secondary school systems are complex, so don’t try and do it all on your own. If you are doing it alone, expect to produce no more than 3 or 4 marksheets per day – and remember a typical school will offer 15-20 subjects at each keystage.
  2. Decide how you will set your targets first. You can’t measure progress until you know what targets you’ll be setting. Spend time with your school’s senior management team and get agreement on exactly how targets will be set before you start to create any templates.
  3. English and maths targets will be easy to agree (with a KS2 baseline result,access to FFT estimates and national expectations most schools can agree these very quickly). But, without a KS2 baseline, how will your school set MFL targets, or PE targets, or Art targets?
  4. Whatever targets you set, make sure that you can explain the targets to a non-expert in no more than three sentences. Complex target setting techniques that can’t be understood by pupils or parents are destined to fail.
  5. Don’t go mad on colours (also known as traffic lights or ragging). Colours are useful but need to be used sparingly. Three or four colours are plenty. Red, amber and green, plus another colour for excellent or perhaps borderline attainment.
  6. How will you measure progress? Will you measure actual progress towards an end of year target? Or an end of keystage target? How do you know if a pupil is on track to an end of year progress or an end of keystage target? What about measuring how pupils stack up to ‘national expectations’ (aka three levels of progress KS2 to KS4)? Be clear about which measure is important to your school – and why.
  7. Will you use FFT estimates? If so, are FFT estimates higher or lower for individual pupils than national expectations. FFT estimates polarise schools – some find them very useful, whereas some schools find them either far too low or unrealistically high.
  8. What baseline will you measure from? If you are measuring progress its important that you have a starting point or baseline. That’s easy for English and Math as you can just use the KS2 result but how will you baseline Geography, History, French and Spanish?