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Assessment without Levels    

From September, 2015 the Government has made a huge change to the way that children in schools are to be assessed. This is a new way of thinking for all schools, and assessment will look very different to how it has done in the past 20 years. We hope that this information will explain the changes happening in Education across the country, and what that means to the children here at Plumpton School.

The New National Curriculum 2014

There are many changes to the new National Curriculum and the staff and governors at Plumpton School have been busy changing our topics to ensure that the children take those changes in the stride. Below is a brief outline of the main changes to the key core subjects.

English – The new programme of study for English is knowledge-based; this means its focus is on knowing facts rather than developing skills and understanding. It is also characterised by an increased emphasis on the technical aspects of language and less emphasis on the creative aspects. English is set out year by year in Key Stage 1 and two-yearly in Key Stage 2.

Mathematics – The main areas in the new programme of study for mathematics are called domains. These are number, measurement, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion and algebra. Two of these, number and geometry, are further divided into subdomains. The way that the curriculum is organised varies across the primary age range – every year group has a unique combination of domains and subdomains. There is a greater emphasis on problem solving in the new maths curriculum but perhaps the biggest change is to the content which has been brought down to earlier years.

End of Curriculum Levels

Why are levels disappearing?

The Department for Education (DfE) want to avoid what has been termed ‘The Level Race’ where children have moved through the old National Curriculum levels too 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. The feeling from the DfE was that the old National Curriculum and the levels system failed to adequately ensure that children had a bredth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.

Assessing without Levels

The DfE announced that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. At Plumpton School we have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils and the way we feel works best for our children is similar to that used in the Early Years and Foundation Stage. This was to take the end of year expectations for each year group and split it into 3 categories as follows:

  • Working towards the expected level (Yet to be secure in the end of year expectations)
  • Working at the expected level (Secure in the majority of the end of year expectations)
  • Working at depth within the expected level (Secure in all end of year expectations and applying skills and knowledge to challenges)

Under the old assessment framework, children who were working at the expected level might have moved into the next level. The DfE want these children to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their skills. Only exceptional children will move into working towards the expectations from the year above. Children who are unlikely to be working towards the expected level may work towards the expectations from the year below.

Assessing without Levels

After lots of research the teachers and governors at Plumpton School have decided to adopt an assessment scheme devised by Chris Quigley. It is a very comprehensive scheme and supports children working at any standard. The steps for learning are small and progress can be easily tracked.

How we give an end of year assessment is going to be identical to the way set out above. 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 teachers will have had an opportunity to assess how the children are working. At the start of each year group, every child will be working towards the expected level as they are 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 forecast as to where they think a child will be by the end of the year.

During the year, when we have conversations with you about your child’s progress you won’t be given an actual definitive position of where your child is. Instead you will be told whether your child is on track to meet their end of year target. It may well be that they are above or below where they need to be, in which case the end of year target may be adjusted.

We hope that you find this information useful to help you understand why assessment has changed and how Plumpton School will assess the children. As ever, please do not hesitate to contact school if you have any queries.


Plumpton School
Plumpton, Penrith,
Cumbria CA11 9PA

Telephone: 01768 894247

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