Assessment without Levels

In 2014, the government made significant changes to the way that children in schools are assessed. This was to tie in with the New National Curriculum because the new curriculum has much higher standards and expectations.

This was a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment began to look very different to how it had been done for the past 20 years as there were no longer National Curriculum ‘levels’ (2b, 3c, 4a etc.).  No new levels for assessment were introduced nationally by the government.  The aim of this guide is to hopefully give you some clear information about all the changes that happened in education across the country, and what that means for the children here at Boughton-under-Blean and Dunkirk Methodist Primary School.

The End of Curriculum Levels

The Department for Education (DfE) wanted to avoid what has been termed ‘The Level Race’ where children were moved through the old National Curriculum levels quickly to achieve higher attainment. The old National Curriculum was sub-divided into levels, but these were not linked to their national curriculum year group. For example, a child in Year 4 could be a Level 3 or even a level 5. Children were achieving Level 5 and 6 at the end of Key Stage 2, but the DfE thought that although a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test but they were not secure at that level. The feeling from the DfE was that the old national curriculum and the levels system failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level. 

Emerging, Expected and Exceeding

The DfE announced that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels, and that schools would have to set up their own ways of assessing pupils. After investigating many different assessment & tracking systems, we decided to use Classroom Monitor, which is very good and used by lots of primary schools in Kent as well as across the rest of the country. This is online software that allows teachers to record their ongoing assessment of pupils against a set of performance indicators for their year group.  Children will now be judged against end of year statements for their year group. The statements fall into 3 categories:
• Emerging— yet to be secure in the end of year expectations.
• Expected—Secure in the majority of the end of year expectations.
• Exceeding—secure in almost all or all the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.
Under the old levels system children who were exceeding might have moved into the next level. The DfE want children who are in the exceeding bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. Children who are unlikely to be emerging at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below.

Key Stage 1
It is anticipated that the majority of children will reach the assessment point of Year 2 Expected, a smaller number of children will reach Year 2 Exceeding, and a small number will be Year 2 Emerging, or possibly Year 1 Exceeding/Expected/Emerging.

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 Expected. Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be Year 6 Exceeding and some children who are Year 6 Emerging. There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. Year 4/5 Exceeding/Expected/Emerging.

Parents' Consultation Evenings and Progress

The biggest difference is how we now talk to you about how your child is progressing during the year. 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. 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 (for example) will always be judged in the first instance against the expectations for the end of Year 4.

So how does this process in school work? Every week the teachers will have had an opportunity to assess how the children are working. At the start of each year group, every child will be Emerging 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. The Government's aim and our schools aim is that the vast majority of children are Expected for their year group by the end of the year.  Ongoing assessments by class teachers are predominantly based on the work in children’s books.  Judgements made by teachers are moderated through collaborative working with other teachers in the school, other schools in the Faversham collaboration and with other schools from across Kent.  The progress of pupils is monitored closely by members of the senior leadership team through termly lesson observations, pupil progress meetings and book scrutinies.  Monitoring by the school governors ensures that senior leaders are held to account.

During the year, when we have conversations with you about your child’s progress at parent consultation meetings, you won’t be given an actual definitive position of where they are on this scale.  Instead you will be told whether your child is on track to be Expected by the end of the academic year for their year group. It may well be that they are below where they need to be, in which case the school will put extra provision in place to ensure progress. A small number of children will be on track to be Exceeding and the school will support these children to ensure they are challenged further.

In the end of year reports that we send out in July you will be informed if your child has achieved the age expected levels for their year group (Expected), whether they are above this (Exceeding) or below (Emerging).

In Term 2 each year you will receive an interim report for your child.  This report will give you information about the targets the children have been working towards in class, their attitudes to learning and areas of significant progress.  These will not give you information about whether children are working towards the age expected levels for their year group.  This will be discussed with you in person at our parent consultation meetings in Term 4.

If you have any questions about assessment procedures in school then please do not hesitate to Mrs Cottenden, the Assessment Leader.

The documents below will give you further information about how the National Curriculum expectations for each year group changed and the reasoning for the removal of National Curriculum levels by the government.

Parents Complete Guide to the New National Curriculum by Rising Stars

Commission Report on the Removal of National Curriculum Levels


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