Instead of suggesting a replacement system, the DfE gave schools the freedom to assess children, and report on their achievements, in whichever way they wished. This now means that many schools across the country assess and report in a variety of different ways, potentially causing confusion for parents and carers. The purpose of this document therefore, is to make clear the ways in which we assess your child here at Campsbourne and to explain why these changes have come about.
What was wrong with levels?
National Curriculum levels (2c, 2b, 2a, 3c, 3b, 3a etc.) will be familiar to any parent whose child has attended school in the last 20 years. Levels were the link between the old curriculum and assessment, specifying criteria that pupils needed to demonstrate in order to progress. Each so-called ‘level descriptor’ was a step up in difficulty from the previous one and children could move up the scale at any age, provided that their teacher deemed it appropriate.
Many educationalists believed that this assessment system was responsible for creating gaps in children’s understanding, as some schools hurried children through the curriculum in pursuit of ever higher grades and quicker rates of progress. They also believed that levels pigeon-holed children by ability, and that the processes of labelling children with letters and numbers distracted from the more important assessment information that would help to move the child forward in their learning.
The DfE wanted schools to deepen children’s understanding rather than to stretch it, and so reorganised the objectives in the 2014 National Curriculum by year group rather than by levels. Guidance on the curriculum stipulated that able children should not be rushed into content from the year above, but should instead be challenged to deepen their understanding through extension work around objectives for their own age group. Less able children, unready to take on age-related objectives, would continue to work on curriculum content from the years below until ready to progress.
How will children progressed be tracked?
All children will now be assessed against the objectives for their own year group (or age-related expectations) rather than on a continuous rising scale as before. Children are regularly assessed in reading, writing, maths and English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (EGPS). Tests now provide a scaled score between 70 and 130. These tests and evidence in children’s books are used to give children an assessment which describe their progress towards end of year expectations.
||P Levels are used for some children who have special education needs.
||Children working behind are significantly behind age expectations and may be working towards the age expectations from a lower year.
||Children emerging are behind age expectations but working towards age expectations for their year group.
||Children developing are just behind age expectations for their year group.
||Children secure are meeting age expectations for their year group.
||Children mastering are deepening their understanding of the age expectations for their year.
*this is not the national average, but the national expectation for children at this age.
Children must now attain at least ‘Meeting’ age-related expectation’ before they are able to progress into the next year of objectives. Even then, sometime may be spent deepening and consolidating learning from the previous year.
How do teachers at Campsbourne make these judgements?
Throughout their time at school, your child is constantly being assessed by their teachers. These assessments are conducted through observations, conversations, marking work and tests. Though the majority of assessments take place in an informal and naturalised way, they are recorded in assessment documents that help to build a complete picture of your child’s development over time.
Children are constantly assessed based on the writing they produce both during English lessons and also in lessons in other curriculum areas. Children are regularly assessed against a set of ‘end of year objectives’. At the start of a unit in English children complete a ‘cold task’. This is a piece of writing which children write with minimal input form the teacher. This enables the teacher to clearly identify which ‘end of year objectives’ the child needs to work on to make further progress within that genre. At the end of the unit children do a ‘hot task’ which is similar to the cold task and shows the improvements made in their writing. Teachers regularly update an assessment spreadsheet which shows how well children are progressing towards meeting end of year objectives.
Children are assessed each week during guided reading sessions. Guided reading sessions involve a carousel of activities which involve children formulating in depth responses to questions over a number of lessons. Written responses provide clear evidence to inform teachers’ judgements about your child’s progress towards end of year objectives. Children are also assessed regularly using Star Reading Tests which are administered on computers. The tests are adaptable depending on how the children answer questions. Questions get progressively harder until a question is answered incorrectly, when an easier question is provided. The test finishes when two questions in a row are answered incorrectly. These tests provide teachers with detailed analysis of how strong a child is with different aspects of the national curriculum for reading and enable teachers to tailor provision to meet the specific needs of the child.
Children are constantly assessed during maths lessons through conversations, observations and the work they produce in their books. At the end of each lesson children are assessed against the learning objective and those who are assessed as not achieving the learning objective receive additional input from the class teacher during assembly time before the next lesson. These additional sessions take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and ensure that gaps in learning are addressed without delay. At the end of each unit children teachers make judgements about children progress towards the objectives for that unit to identify which children need additional support. This information is used by us to provide targeted support. At the end of each term children take written maths papers which are analysed to identify gaps in children knowledge and understanding.
Children in Year 2 and Year 6 are obliged to undertake National Curriculum Tests (also known as SATs) in the summer term. 2016 saw the introduction of a new set of tests, deigned to be more rigorous and to reflect the more challenging content of the new primary curriculum introduced in 2014.
In Year 2, children must undertake tests in maths, reading and grammar, punctuation and spelling. The tests are administered in an informal, naturalised way and are marked by your child’s class teacher. The results of the tests are then used to help the teacher make an overall judgement as to where your child is with their learning and understanding. The result for each subject will then be reported to you through one of the mark statements previously described.
In Year 6, SATs tests are administered in a more formal manner in accordance with strict guidance from the DfE. As in Year 2, children in Year 6 undertake tests in maths, reading and grammar, punctuation and spelling, but these tests are marked externally rather than by your child’s class teacher.
How will Year 6 SATs test results be reported to parents?
Children’s results are reported using a scaled score. A scaled score of 100 represents the expected standard for each test. If your child gets a scaled score of 100 or more it means they are working at or above the expected standard in the subject. If your child gets a scaled score of less than 100 it means that they may need more support to reach the expected standard. The highest scaled score possible is 120, and the lowest is 80. Below is a leaflet from the Department for Education which explains the new assessment system and how progress is measured.
Primary School Progress Measures Leaflet
Reporting to Parents
Children’s attainment and progress is discussed at Parent Meetings which take place each term. During these meetings parents are informed about how their child is progressing against end of year expectations and what their targets are both in school and for home.
Teachers are also available for informal consultation if parents wish to discuss their child’s learning at other points.
End of Year Reports
End of year reports clearly show how well children have done against the end of year expectations for reading, writing and maths. For foundation subjects parents are provided with an overview which shows how well children are working in a subject and their effort.