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Flight paths never change?

(33 Posts)
sahbear Thu 25-Jul-19 08:21:07

We recently received DS1s Y7 report. The flight paths he has been assigned are so unambitious.
Tutor says they are based largely on KS2 results, gender, and birth month. He is a summer born boy who found the literacy Sats hard (dyspraxia). This means that his flightpath for all subjects apart from maths and ICT are on a predicted gcse grade of 3-5.
However he is thriving at secondary school. Test results etc put him much higher, but the school says his flightpath cannot change (even in ks4) although it is great he is exceeding it.
It just doesn't make sense to me. Is this normal (or it just our school). His flightpath seems to appear on assessment sheets and other everyday pieces of paper at school, as well as the report, but just doesn't reflect what he is capable of.

OP’s posts: |
munemema Thu 25-Jul-19 08:33:04

We had the opposite. Ds1's was borderline 4/5 for yr 6 SATS (when they still did that) and the primary intensively coached him to get him over the line for the benefit of their league table position.

That meant all his targets were too high for him and on paper he made no progress for the first two years.

Absolutely soul destroying, be careful what you wsh for. His GCSE results were fine for him but he went through the entire 5 years feeling he was letting the school down because he couldnt meet the targets the govt had set for them.

WilsonandNoodles Thu 25-Jul-19 08:39:07

I've never taught in a school that made initial predictions off anything but KS2 results. I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that they are taking birth month into account.
A 5 is a good grade but if you think your DS is capable he shouldn't be restricted but a lot of GCSE subjects don't have split level papers so it shouldn't be a problem. Don't worry too much at this point. It looks good for the school to have students over achieving I'm terms of their progress so they won't hold him back if he's capable but won't want to change predictions and then underachieve.

CuckooCuckooClock Thu 25-Jul-19 08:39:49

Flight paths are bullshit and schools aren’t supposed to be using them. Try not to take it too seriously.

sahbear Thu 25-Jul-19 09:24:39

OK. DS says 'flightpath don't matter', which is presumably what school have told him. I guess I should take the same approach.
You are right @munemema, it is better to have the confidence boost of exceeding his flightpath than the other way round.
It just doesn't seem a student centred approach. It's not of him now, but it can never change....

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Thu 25-Jul-19 09:36:46

The flightpath is what the average child coming in with his SATs would be expected to achieve.
The school would be better off keeping that to themselves, and just telling you where they think he is headed based on his actual performance.
Provided you don't think he is actually being limited by his flightpath then fine to ignore I think.

munemema Thu 25-Jul-19 09:39:56

Was my DS's school wrong to make him aware of his targets then? We didn't get flight paths graphs sent home, but the targets were based on the same data and he was very aware all the way through of how far he was away from them.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 25-Jul-19 09:47:48

munema I would say yes they were wrong. As you said 'soul destroying', or possibly the other way around, limiting.

TheFirstOHN Thu 25-Jul-19 10:34:52

DS1 overperformed in his KS2 SATS and his GCSE targets were set too high. However hard he worked, his reports showed that he was underperforming ('helpfully' colour coded orange and red on every report). His personality was more sensitive than resilient, and he became disengaged from education for several years. There were other contributing factors to his depression and anxiety, but the overly high targets didn't help.

DS3 made a moderate effort in his KS2 SATS but certainly didn't exert himself. His GCSE targets were modest, and he easily exceeds the interim targets set each year. This results in lots of praise from the school and a pupil who is motivated to work harder. After his performance in the end of Y10 exams, his targets are being adjusted upwards (in some cases by 2 grades).

Better to have a low target and exceed it, than to regularly receive the message that you are not good enough (which is how many of them will interpret it).

LolaSmiles Thu 25-Jul-19 10:39:47

Flightpaths are what's typical for a child who entered at a given point.

It's easy for DfE and Ofsted to say schools don't need them, but then they explicitly judge secondary schools on progress from the KS2 sats so I'm not sure on the logic there.

Ultimately statistical targets are based on percentage chances and flightpaths are best fit but range from nonsense to common sense. If he is working hard, making good progress then who really cares? I'm not being flippant there, but as I tell my y11s, does it matter? If they have a target of a 6 then I'm.still going to teach them the whole course, still going to push them, still going to encourage them to thrive. Many of them 'overachieve', but rely they've worked hard for it.

sahbear Thu 25-Jul-19 10:48:16

Thank you. That is really helpful.

OP’s posts: |
DrinkSangriaInThePark Thu 25-Jul-19 10:48:35

I'm a teacher in Ireland and we don't use any of that stuff! We don't bother predicting anything, we just teach the children in front of us and tell the parents how they're getting on when we meet them at Parent Teacher Meetings and on their regular reports which are sent home. I think it's crazy to set out any kind of 'path' or prediction for adolescents who are changing all the time and going through social and physical changes which can affect schoolwork from year to year. Once the teacher knows their student and takes an interest in their progress I think all that data can be unnecessary and stressful.

Comefromaway Thu 25-Jul-19 11:01:43

We've got the opposite. Ds entered school not having done SATS and his previosu school who did IGCSE A*-E said he was a typical B student so he was assigned targets of Grade 6 for everything. However due to autism he has huge problems with essay based subjects so basically he will always show as underachieving in English even though he has progressed from being on track for a Grade 2 to on track for Grade 4/5. On the other hand his target for maths should be more like 7/8 and he is getting complacent in maths and science.

Punxsutawney Thu 25-Jul-19 14:44:34

I agree with the other posters. Ds got good sats and is very bright but has ridiculously high minimum expected grades. He has spent the last 4 years of secondary disappointed with his reports. Sometimes he can get two grades better than the person he is sat next to and they will get an above and he will get a below. He is probably going to get an autism diagnosis in the next few months but it makes no difference to the grades that were worked out when he was 11.

Eldest son went to secondary having struggled at primary and spent his whole time being told that he was amazing and exceeding his quite low expectations. He loved it and so did we. It gave him confidence and he ended up doing really well. Far better than ever predicted.

Foodforthemasses Sat 27-Jul-19 10:06:57

I have summer born twins who are of very similar ability but one got a 5 in Maths and the other got a 4 - their actual mark would have been very close. Comparing their targets, based on Sats and cats, with their actual grades has been an interesting exercise - nothing matched up - the targets were truly pointless, at times wildly over ambitious and other times a two year targets were achieved within a term - this did not mean we had a genius on our hands...the targets were just such bullshit. So we had to learn to be dismissive of them because when they were too low my kids felt that the teacher thought they were crap and when they were ridiculously high - they felt that it was an impossible target to achieve - I get that the school like to monitor these things but I do not understand how anyone finds them useful.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Jul-19 10:23:45

It's easy for DfE and Ofsted to say schools don't need them, but then they explicitly judge secondary schools on progress from the KS2 sats

But they judge schools by comparing a student’s actual progress from KS2 SATs with other comparable students’ actual progress from KS2 SATs. Not predicted data, or comparison to set targets, but how the students actually did. These flight paths have been around for longer than we’ve had actual exam data showing how pupils perform and are not statistically validated, they’re just made up by someone drawing straight lines on graph paper.

That’s even before you get onto the idea of taking two data points 5 years apart and drawing a straight line in between them and expecting that straight line to be in any way a valid representation of what should happen. It’s like saying a child was this height aged 11, they’ll probably be around this height aged 16, and we’ve measured them aged 13 and they are way off the straight line, this is outrageous.

And that’s before you get to the idea that you can actually measure the student aged 13. You’ve got SATs aged 11, GCSEs aged 16, what nationally validated exams have you got in between? You haven’t.

In conclusion: OP it’s bollocks. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

LolaSmiles Sat 27-Jul-19 10:36:01

Oh I agree it's bollocks. Learning isn't linear.

I guess I find it annoying that they assess schools on the track between two fixed points and then say to schools 'oh but don't worry about checking where the students are at an appropriately expected place at any point in the 5 years'.

Levels were far from perfect, but I think life after levels has created bizarre situations and systems where the emperor has no clothes on. Schools are having to rely on educated guesswork.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Jul-19 10:44:04

I wouldn’t call it educated.

And I also think that the way that some schools misuse data and blame the children when it doesn’t work out that way in real life is totally immoral.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Jul-19 11:11:16

Talking about levels has reminded me of this thread from 2012. Levels suffered from exactly the same crap. Remember the old 2 sublevels progress per year shite?

youarenotkiddingme Sat 27-Jul-19 11:39:54

My summer born (mid Aug!) 14yo with ASD and a neuro genetic disorder who also has a scribe and reader and did so for sats too has a flight path of 5/6.
However realistically his predicted grades are 4 for English and drama, 5 geography and computing, 7 for science and 8 for maths.

A good school will recognise learning styles and strengths and weaknesses and work with those ensuring your child was the best possible grades in the varying styles and demands of subjects.

tigerlily111 Sat 27-Jul-19 12:46:48

At our school, they are based on a myriad of measures Cats Sat's, formative tests even post code and socio-economic group

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Jul-19 13:00:47

And yet the target grade they generate will still have less than a 50% likelihood of being the final grade.

tigerlily111 Sat 27-Jul-19 14:15:35

*noble giraffe*as determined in y7perhaps but they are refined as time goes by and end up not far out

christinarossetti19 Sat 27-Jul-19 14:28:24

I went in and spoke to the Head of Y7 at my dd's school about 'targets' and 'flight paths'.

She said that they try to share as little data as possible with the children and families because it's all nonsense and pretty arbitrary.

But they have to show 'measurements of some sort, so that need to use it for their internal data.

I explained this to dd and she got it.

Ds has SATS next year and I've already told his school that I will support him leaving primary with a good knowledge of the KS2 curriculum, but will not support 'coaching' for SATS. I know lots of children who lost motivation and confidence during secondary due to very high flight path predictions based on very good SATS results (including a couple whose school share their 'GCSE predicted grades' with them in the first term of Y7) and it's a horrible system.

pointythings Sat 27-Jul-19 15:59:52

Our school lists 'aspirational' grades as well as 'expected (= based on flight path) grades. The former are of course still imperfect, but at least they are based on how the child is currently doing, and they change upwards or downwards. The 'expected' grades don't change at all.

DD1's 'aspirational' grades were almost completely spot on except for one. Her 'expected grades were overall 2 grades below what she actually got.

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