Case Study – Lateral Progress- Effective practice in the use of data by special
schools and mainstream schools with high percentages of low attaining pupils
Name of School: Chadsgrove School and Specialist Sports College, Bromsgrove
Contact name: Angela Macvie (Assistant Head Teacher)
This case study arose out of a need to analyse and track the progress made by pupils who did not appear to be
making progress on the usual assessment and tracking systems used within school. Typically, these pupils had
profound and multiple learning difficulties or progressive medical conditions. School staff knew that these pupils
were making progress but that this was lateral rather than linear in nature and that they were not able to clearly
demonstrate this is any measurable, consistent way.
As part of the school’s development work in this area, it was necessary to:
Identify what constitutes lateral progression
Develop appropriate observation schedules
Find a way of ‘numerically’ tracking the progress that a pupil makes and then attempt to determine if that
progress is satisfactory or otherwise.
This case study work on lateral progression was carried out alongside a significant review of overall curriculum
provision, planning and the use of performance data across the school.
The case study illustrates
The importance of developing appropriate frameworks to track the progress made by pupils with the most
profound and complex learning needs.
How lateral progression can be broken down into a set of key skills which can then be observed, assessed
and tracked at both an individual and whole school level
A suggested way of generating school level, useable performance data for this group of pupils
How effective analysis of the lateral progress of pupils with profound and complex needs can contribute
towards whole school improvement
The case study also demonstrates the importance of:
Collaboration between colleagues in order to moderate observations of pupil responses and ensure the
quality, security and reliability of data
Developing effective observation schedules to support the assessment and target setting process
Looking at and celebrating the progress of pupils as individuals and accepting that, whilst striving to make
comparative analyses of the progress that pupils make, this may not always be possible or appropriate for
this very unique group of learners.
The need for all staff to be reflective practitioners if pupils are to be appropriately and effectively
challenged in their learning.
Continued professional development in order to further build upon the level of expertise within special
School Context :
Chadsgrove is an all age (2-19) school for pupils with physical disabilities in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. It is a
specialist sports college with an additional specialism in physical/sensory needs.
There are 125 pupils on roll, all of whom have additional learning needs, sensory impairments or complex health
needs. 35% of pupils have profound and multiple learning difficulties. A significant number of these pupils appear
to make lateral progress at some point in their school career. Others remain at this stage in their learning for
extended periods of time
In addition to the progression guidance, the school uses two commercial packages (B Squared and CASPA) to
record pupil progress, make comparative analyses and set targets
Starting Point – What is lateral progression?
As a school, we decided that it would be appropriate to use the following five skills as the basis from which we
could demonstrate lateral progression for the pupils at the school:
With the exception of reactivating skills, it was felt that the other four skills could be put in a very rudimentary order
– for example it was agreed that pupils were likely to maintain skills in the first instance before moving on to
refining, combining or transferring them to other situations. However, it was also accepted that our pupils are very
much individual and that we couldn’t guarantee that pupils would always progress in this way. It was agreed from
the outset, that comparative analysis of the progress of these pupils was not necessarily possible bearing in mind
the complexities of learning needs that they presented. However, it was not totally dismissed.
Developing the Observation Schedule
Next, it was necessary to develop an observation schedule that could be used easily by all staff and that provided
all of the information necessary to allow for progress to be both identified and tracked. The information on the
observation schedule needed to include:
The area of learning that the pupil was accessing
o This wasn’t necessarily a National Curriculum subject area and more likely to be an area of
learning from the Barrs Court Curriculum, which had been identified as a curriculum particularly
suited to the learning needs of this group of pupils.
The learning target that had been identified for the pupil
o Again, this is likely to have been taken from the Barrs Court Curriculum as it allowed teachers to
fine tune learning objectives and to really focus in on the development of specific skills
A baseline observation of the pupil with regard to the target skill.
o This was crucial if the teacher was to assess if/how the pupil was progressing laterally, since all 5
lateral progress skills needed the teacher to make qualitative judgements on further observed
behaviours as teaching progressed.
An opportunity to record how a pupil responds during teaching sessions
o This also needed to include an opportunity to identify the type of lateral progress being made by
the pupil as a result of any observations made.
An opportunity to moderate teacher assessments
o The need for moderation was seen to be crucial in the whole process, particularly since this was
the first time the lateral progress skills were being matched against observable pupil behaviours.
An opportunity for the teacher to add a narrative to the observations
o This was seen to be necessary in cases of extended absence, illness or other circumstances that
may affect a pupil’s responses or levels of engagement within a learning experience.
An opportunity to include photographic or link to video evidence
o Again, this would help to support the moderation process
The actual observation schedule is appended to the end of this case study (Appendix 1). Initial trials of the
schedule have been taking place with a sample of pupils from Key Stages 1 and 2.
In order to monitor and track the progress that pupils were making a summary document was produced. This
document simply tallied the types of lateral progress observed by a teacher using the observation schedule above.
In addition, teachers also felt that it was important to reflect upon pupil levels of engagement within activities as
this supported our work on reflective practice. As part of a different piece of research we had established the use
of an ‘Engagement Profile’ within school and teachers found this a really useful additional tool when considering
the actual progress being made by pupils with complex needs.
The actual summary sheet is appended to the end of this case study (Appendix 2)
Evaluating The Progress Made
Once numerical data has been collected using the tally counts from the summary sheet above, it should prove
possible for teachers and senior leaders at school to make quantitative judgements about the progress that
individual pupils are making. For example, in the Autumn Term 1, most observation tallies for an individual pupil
could be in the ‘maintaining’ column whereas in the Spring Term 2 they could be in the ‘refining’ column, indicating
that progress has, indeed, been made.
Over time, as more data is collected it is hoped that it will be possible to make some judgements about the
progress of these pupils as a whole. This will be the first step towards developing some form of school based
comparative analysis for this group. However, in the first instance, we will just be looking for any observable trends
as we continue to acknowledge that comparative analysis for this group of pupils is extremely difficult due to the
very different and complex nature of their needs and learning abilities.
As a result of the development work around lateral progression:
Teachers are able to be much more focused on the progress that pupils are making in relation to identified
baseline behaviours. They are now able to demonstrate what they already knew – that the majority of
pupils with very complex learning needs are making progress but that this progress is different to that
identified by the usual, commercially produced assessment and tracking systems.
Senior leaders will, increasingly, be able to demonstrate and monitor the rate of this progress over time.
Previously it was only possibly to demonstrate that pupils were making little or no progress and, although
teachers were keeping narratives about the actual progress that they knew their pupils were making, this
could not be translated into useable whole school ‘data’.
There is a greater degree of consistency over what is assessed and how it is assessed across the whole
school. This, in turn, suggests that there will be a significant improvement on the usefulness of these
assessments with regard to improving standards and furthering the development of effective provision
across the school as a whole.
There has been a much greater move towards reflective practice in classrooms by both teachers and
teaching assistants – staff are thinking about how pupils are behaving relative to baseline observations
and then reflecting carefully about what this means in terms of lateral progression. In turn, this is
supporting the assessment and target setting process at both a whole school and individual level.
Work on lateral progression is at an early stage of development at the school. However, the work that has been
carried out, so far, with the trial group of pupils has been encouraging, has energised staff and has enabled them
to plan a way forward for the monitoring of lateral progression across the whole school.
Further planned developments include:
Expanding the use of the lateral progression framework to Key Stages 3 and 4
Expanding the use of the lateral progression framework to Early Years pupils who are not able to
demonstrate progress on through the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework
Collating data collected over time to see if we are able to determine if there is any consistency with regard
to the rates of progress of different pupils – this would be our first step towards developing our own
We have always known that some pupils do not progress in a linear way but this is the first time at this school that
staff have really begun to think about what it means to progress laterally. This clearly has implications for staff
development and training across the whole school that needs to be included within the school development plans
over the coming months.
The work has also highlighted the crucial role that moderation plays within the framework. Again, this has
implications for staff development. For the process to be successful, all staff need to know how to observe pupils
and need to have a shared understanding of what it means, for example when we say that a pupil is refining or
combining his/her skills
Contact email address (for further information):
Appendix 1 - Lateral Progress Assessment Sheet
Area of Learning
Date Observations Assessment Moderation
(RA M R C T)
Summary / Comments
Baseline Photograph / Video Link
Progress Photograph / Video Link
Appendix 2 - Lateral Progress Summary Sheet
Reactivating Maintaining Refining Combining Transferring Engagement Comment
skills skills skills skills skills Profile