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Chesterfield High School
in numbers
of students achieve GCSE grades 9-4 across all subjects
of sixth form leavers stay in education
North Liverpool, United Kingdom
Institution Type
Secondary Education
“For Everyone the Best”: students can only maximise their potential in a school that enables personalised pathways and set very challenging targets for everyone.


Having seen the value of technology during the pandemic, the school trialled Gradescope for exam assessment, saw quick results and rapidly rolled the product out across almost all subject areas.


95% of teachers were using Gradescope after the initial rollout was completed


More than 1000 students are now receiving assessment and feedback via Gradescope


The ease and efficiency of the product allowed one member of staff to rapidly mark 900 papers when faced with staff absences

We're in a world where everyone is expecting things to be done digitally, but some schools are still going the long way round. This doesn't need to be the case when you've got the efficiency of a product like Gradescope, which digitises student feedback, improves the efficiency of marking, and reduces teacher workload.

- Jon Duffy, Associate Assistant Headteacher - Digital Learning, Exams and Data Chesterfield High School

Two aims, met

Chesterfield High School started the process with two clear aims. Firstly, to improve efficiency in their marking process. Secondly, to be able to effectively analyse exam data in order to make meaningful student interventions.

Efficiency was a key aim because their traditional process of exam marking pulled staff time away from teaching and learning and onto marking as an administrative function. The process was also too easily derailed by staff absences or unexpected delays. By improving efficiency, the school hoped to free up time to deliver improvements to teaching.

Central to that process was the secondary aim of harnessing and analysing data. While in the traditional marking process a teacher might spot a trend in answers across a class of 30 students, there was no way of doing so across an entire year, subject or the high school as a whole. By effectively analysing exam data collected by Gradescope, Chesterfield are able to make meaningful interventions in teaching, providing extra support and training where necessary using the time created by process efficiency.

Where traditional reporting of exam results amounts to little more than a table of percentages, after implementation of Gradescope the more detailed analysis and evaluation of data allows the Chesterfield team to set next steps and routes to improvement. Teachers are able to analyse results on a question level, seeing the distribution of scores across an assessment including averages, high and low marks and standard deviations of marks. The result is data which helps show the efficacy of assessments, and the effectiveness of teaching.

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Before Gradescope, after Gradescope

Chesterfield’s traditional exam process was a familiar one, with 250-300 students sitting an exam, papers collected and then apportioned to markers. This system relied on a large number of markers, making it difficult to manage the process and coordinate feedback.

In the last two years, the Covid pandemic has made the existing challenges of that process more acute, with far more frequent staff absences and greater pressures on staff time overall.

Led by Jon Duffy, the Associate Assistant Headteacher for digital learning, exams and data, Chesterfield began looking at alternatives.

I look at what a lot of the large American universities do - places like Duke, like Berkeley - and see what they're doing. We’re trying to embrace that kind of technology into what we do. We are trying to make sure that we are ahead of the curve.

Jon Duffy, Associate Assistant Headteacher - Digital Learning, Exams and Data Chesterfield High School

Beginning with trials in subjects known to have tech-adopting teams, Duffy managed the process directly, before empowering subject leads to take ownership of the process.

Working with the Gradescope team, Chesterfield designed a training programme which emphasised the benefits and flexibility of Gradescope and gave staff the tools to use it. This involved encouraging individual subjects to consider how best to implement Gradescope into their existing processes and evolve them to unlock the full potential.

The first real test of Chesterfield’s Gradescope implementation was Year 11 Mock GCSEs, which saw 75% of subjects assessed using the product. By the time of the next round of exams, Chesterfield were up to 85-90% adoption.

The high school is now seeing teaching staff adapting their teaching and assessment to get the most out of Gradescope and tap into the efficiencies it can provide.

The cost benefit of Gradescope in a school our size is clear. Being able to increase the efficiency of the workloads on teachers; it's quite a cost saving exercise.

Jon Duffy, Associate Assistant Headteacher - Digital Learning, Exams and Data Chesterfield High School

With teachers adjusting and unlocking the benefits of the product, Gradescope is part of a mindset change at Chesterfield High School as they make progress towards digital delivery.

The cost of Gradescope implementation itself, and the process required to realise those efficiency benefits, was in Duffy’s view quite minimal in terms of time, management and quality assurance.

Resilience, reference, results

Chesterfield High School’s use of Gradescope has had an impact across the assessment process, allowing them to - in Duffy’s words - “manage the whole exams process in a modern way”.

Firstly, in the shadow of the Covid era, it has built resilience into a process which was a significant time commitment for staff, and a significant point of weakness in the teaching and learning process.

Secondly, it has provided the opportunity to digitise records, reducing the need for on-site storage and even impacting the psychology of marking workloads with teachers no longer required to carry boxes of exam papers home with them. There’s also real time management of the examination and marking process, making it easier to keep track of the process and improving collective understanding of exams and results.

Finally, Gradescope has allowed data analysis at both the aggregate and the granular level. With many exam boards already analysing at a question level, Chesterfield now has that same ability. Combining that level of detail with analysis of results by subject, year group, class allows their team to design meaningful, impactful interventions to improve student outcomes.

Jon Duffy, Associate Assistant Headteacher - Digital Learning, Exams and Data Chesterfield High School