High Prior Attaining Students

At St James we pride ourselves on ensuring that all our students leave with the best possible grades and we do this by focusing on all key groups of students in terms of the support we give them to achieve their best.

High prior attaining (HPA) students are defined as those who start secondary school in Year 7 having attained a ‘well above average score’ in their KS2 tests (post 2017) or who start with a combined KS2 Maths and Reading score of 5 or more (pre 2017).  These students are identified as HPA on teachers’ marksheets, and will be set aspirational GCSE targets of grade 7-9.

In order to continually challenge and support students to achieve the highest possible grades at GCSE, HPA students can expect:

  • To be informed that they are high attaining and to receive an explanation of what this means, what it entitles them to and what they are expected to achieve.
  • That their lessons will contain appropriately challenging and stimulating learning that engages and stretches their knowledge, understanding and skills so that they can achieve grades 7-9.
  • To have aspirational grade 7-9 targets set in all subjects and to be supported to achieve them.
  • To have their attainment and progress reported on – in line with the school’s reporting schedule – and monitored by classroom teachers, Heads of Departments, their Head of Year and the wider Senior Leadership Team to ensure they attain their GCSEs at grade 7-9.
  • Intervention to support them in subjects where they are underachieving and at risk of not achieving grades 7-9.
  • Opportunities to attend specialist co-curricular clubs, career days, advice and guidance and university days focused on post-16 opportunities for students who achieve multiple grades 7-9 in all their GCSEs

In relation to supporting students who are expected to achieve multiple (or any) grades of 7-9 all teachers will aim to:

  • Promote an ethos of high expectation and aspiration.
  • Stretch and challenge as part of day-to-day differentiation practice.
  • Set appropriately challenging independent study opportunities for consolidation and extension.
  • Establish specific classroom interventions for underachieving HPA students.
  • Ensure that data drops are as accurate as possible, so that analysis of HPA students’ attainment is reliable and subsequent interventions have impact.
  • Attend relevant CPD where appropriate to help develop and implement key teaching strategies.

Parents can help by:

  • Encouraging a positive attitude to learning.
  • Maintaining open, positive and supportive communications with staff.
  • Encouraging participation in the wider learning opportunities offered by the school.
  • Where possible, providing a quiet space and time for students to work independently at home.
  • Attending events at the school to support students including parents’ evenings and subject evenings.
  • Talking to students about university and being aspirational in their career and post-16 choices.
  • Challenging student mind-sets to not ‘settle’ for the minimum course requirements and know that students need to set themselves apart from other candidates in a competitive field.


Academic achievements of HPA students

2018 HPA 2017 HPA 2016 HPA
Progress 8 -0.15 0.08 -0.08
Progress Eng -0.36 0.08 -0.01
Progress Maths -0.07 0.39 0.23
Progress Ebacc -0.12 0.36 -0.16
Progress Open -0.1 -0.4 -0.26
Attainment 8 57.3 58.76 63.35
% Basics 9-5 72% 79% 100%
% Basics 9-4 90% 93% 100%
% Ebacc Standard Pass 61% 71% 86%
% Ebacc Strong Pass 48% 64% n/a