In the last couple of years, the whole country has been going through a transitional change from the old National Curriculum (which had ‘Levels’) to a new National Curriculum and the complete removal of levels. Some parents have asked what ‘level’ their child is working at and that is not the way schools work any more. The Government removed the ‘levels’ in September 2014 for all year groups except Y2 and Y6. From September 2015, levels have gone for those year groups as well. From September 2017, we will be fully working with a new system of assessment, devised by ourselves and ACET.
Our assessment, target-setting and tracking system is based around the idea that children learn skills and knowledge but understand each of these to differing depths compared other pupils. Pupils are taught according to the age-related expectations laid down by the new National Curriculum. In other words, Year Four pupils, for example, will be taught a Year Four syllabus, with the aim that by the end of Year Four they are ready for Year Five. Pupils who need extra support, perhaps to reinforce and refine earlier learning, will be given extra support and interventions to aid their understanding while those pupils who learn quickly will be given opportunities to apply their understanding to a range of challenging contexts. This will enable them to master the ‘tools’ they have been given, rather than learning the next set of tools before they fully understand how and when to use what they have already got.
This leaves parents who had become used to levels wondering how they can understand their child’s performance. Children’s assessments now encompass a far wider range of information so give a more accurate view of how the child is doing in different areas of learning. Each child from F1 to Y6 will be assessed against age-related information. This will then be broken down into bands so that we can report whether children are working at, below or above what is expected for children of that age.
BELOW AT ABOVE
Our system goes further, though, mirroring the way that the Foundation Stage reports and then adding greater detail on to that. We describe children as:
BELOW DEVELOPING SECURING MASTERING
Children working ‘below’ in our assessment tend to be those working well below age-related expectations and have identified needs. Those children are currently assessed using a system called PIVATS which looks at pupil learning broken down into much smaller elements.
What does that mean for progression?
Expected progress would be that a child arriving school at age-related expectations in Foundation would leave in Year 6 working at age-related expectations. Less than this is unacceptable and is closely monitored to ensure that this does not happen for any child. Accelerated progress would have that child leaving school at the end of Y6 above age-related expectations, or a child coming in below expected would be leaving at at least expected. Exceptional progress would see that child who came in at age-related leaving school at the end of Y6 well above age-related expectations.
Most importantly, by looking at the age-related criteria for each year group, we are able to identify gaps in pupils learning and understanding which enables us to gives them personalised next steps for development which can be discussed, shared and worked on throughout each year by school, parents and the child to ensure that each pupil is on track.