Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2018

Tracking and monitoring learner’s progress through use of intelligent data in Cockenzie Primary School, East Lothian

What is this?

​This exemplar shows the use of James Nottingham’s assessment quadrant visualisation to show how children can progress over time. This approach has been used at Cockenzie Primary to focus professional development and support children's progress.

Who is this for?

​All teaching staff in primary schools.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

This is an approach that can be used to track progress of individuals, cohorts, classes and whole school. Currently standardised assessment data is analysed in order to plot a child or group using a quadrant. It provides a visual synthesis that becomes the agenda for support and challenge discussions with class teachers. It is a highly useful tool for leaders and senior managers to gain an overview of the school and to focus upon the factors that give rise to the information that is presented in the quadrant. It makes complex and detailed data accessible to class teachers. The aim is to see a shift in pupils from the yellow and red quadrants into the green and blue. It provides a focus upon challenge for pupils in their learning. It also helps track children who may have barriers to their learning and informs decision making related to targeting of interventions and resources.


PDF file: Assessment quadrant example (149 KB)

​Explore this exemplar


James Nottingham is the inspiration for this work which grew from his presentation on the use of quadrants at the Visible Learning International conference in London in January 2016. He emphasised the differences between achievement and attainment stating that attainment was a measure of progress. This provided a clear strategy that could impact on how the staff at Cockenzie Primary School measure progress for all pupils and linked well with professional learning about Hattie’s work on ‘Knowing thy impact’.
James Nottingham’s quadrant approach provides a clear visualisation of how children are making progress over time. He advocates plotting progress as detailed below:


In Cockenzie Primary School in East Lothian, implementation of this approach began late in session 2016/17. The success of this so far and the positive feedback from teachers has informed how the school is continuing to develop this throughout 2017 /18.

What was done?

Staff can use standardised reading ages to plot attainment and progress. Attainment is determined by the standardised assessment reading age compared to the child’s chronological age. High attainment is recorded if the child is at or above their chronological age.

Spelling progress is also monitored through the use of the NFER standardised single word spelling. This provides a spelling age for each child and this is plotted at regular intervals over time.

When comparing classes, it can illustrate variability on the rate of progress some classes make in comparison to others. Staff are asked to analyse what is making the difference for pupils in each of the quadrants. This informs professional dialogue at progress meetings.

See a clearer version for download.



Ensuring equity of success and progress for all learners:

  • The quadrant that staff find most challenging when reflecting and discussing their classes is the high attaining learners who are making insufficient progress. Staff strive to overcome the perspective that they are doing well enough.
  • The school is raising awareness of the importance of identifying appropriate skills to develop these pupils through referencing reading skills progress , which identifies skills that have not yet been taught and may be impacting negatively on the rate of progress. The school is in the process of evaluating the planning for these. This is challenging for staff teaching pupils whose reading ages can be above 16 years.
  • The school has identified the factors that give rise to best practice leading to better growth and adjusted the school’s universal strategies. Enhanced strategies were identified to target the needs of those children who are scoring below their chronological age.
  • Staff are confident the school’s adoption of these approaches identifies barriers quickly and also leads to more meaningful and focused discussions in parental meetings.

What was the impact?

Improved professional dialogue between promoted staff and class teachers related to children’s individual progress over time and improvement in reading and spelling.