The DfE announced last year that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels, and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. We have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils, and we have had demonstrations of various tracking systems, as well as attending meetings within and outside our cluster. Almost all of the assessment systems use the same format, which is similar to the system used in the Early Years Foundation Stage of ‘Emerging, Expected or Exceeding’ their end of year expectation.

We are calling the steps beginning, within and secure, with an additional plus for each one (b, b+, w, w+, s, s+).

Under the old levels system children who were secure in their level might have moved into the next level, like moving up a ladder. The DfE now want children who are in the secure bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. They are calling this phase of learning Mastery and Depth. Only exceptional children will move into the beginning step of the year above. Similarly, some children may work towards the expectations from the year below. Most children will be aspiring to achieve the secure band for their year group by the end of the year, having (presumably) begun at secure at the band below in the previous year (e.g. 3s at end of Y3 to 4s at the end of Y4). Secure is what we are calling AGE RELATED EXPECTATION (ARE) which is where the emphasis now lies.

So how will this look at the end of each Key Stage?

Key Stage 1

It is anticipated that the majority of children will reach the assessment point of Year 2 secure (2s) however children may be anywhere from Year 2 beginning (2b) to Year 2 secure+ (2s+), or possibly Year 1 beginning/within/secure.

Key Stage 2

Lots of you may have heard of the expression ‘Secondary Ready’ as the standard children must achieve by the end of Year 6. The DfE have slightly distanced themselves from this phrase and are talking about children reaching the assessment point of Year 6 secure (6s). Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be Year 6 secure and some children who are Year 6 beginning. There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. Year 4/5 beginning/within/secure.

Assessing Without Levels With the old National Curriculum levels

Each year children were given a target for the end of the year, and during the year we would tell you what National Curriculum level your child was at. For Example: A child could finish Year 3 with a level 3a, and in Year 4 would have a target of a 4b for the end of the year. The difference now is that it is NOT a race to move through the bands, we are coming away from the ‘ladder’ system.

There used to be no correlation between a level and a child’s year group, and this can be seen in the way that in a Year 6 class there could be a range of levels, from level 2 to a level 6. However, the new National Curriculum sets out expectations for each year group and children will be assessed against those every year, so a child in Year 4 will always be judged in the first instance against the expectations for the end of Year 4.

So how will the process in school work? In each Autumn term, by the October half term, the teachers will have had an opportunity to assess how the children are working. At the start of each year group, most children will be beginning as they are being judged against the End of Year statements. By using their professional knowledge and judgement teachers will know what the children can already do and what they think the children can achieve. They will then give a forecast as to where they think a child will be by the end of the year. So, for example, children in Year 3 could be given a forecast of 3b, 3w OR 3s. Only very exceptional children will have a forecast from a higher or lower year group. As far as we are aware Year 6 secure+ is likely to be the highest grading for the end of Key Stage 2.

Children with Special Educational Needs will still be working within the same system, however these pupils will have individual targets from their Pupil Passports. Parents of these pupils will be spoken to personally about how the new system will work in relation to their child’s individual learning at review meetings throughout the year.

We hope that you find this guide useful to help you understand why and how assessment has changed.

Information for Parents/Carers with a child in Year Two or Year Six