As part of the government reforms to the National Curriculum in 2014, the old system of “levels”, which we used to report children’s attainment and progress, were removed and not replaced. It was left up to schools to decide how children will be assessed and then how this would be reported to parents.

The new National Curriculum sets out expectations at the end of each key stage (Reception, Year 2 and Year 6) and it is the responsibility of the school to monitor what the children have learnt and where they are in this journey, particularly if they are not at the end of a key stage. (Years 1,3,4,5).

To ensure we have a rigorous and effective system, the St Mary’s leadership and assessment team have been working with the Adel and Horsforth Assessment cluster, as well as the Bishop Wheeler Trust. The new system is being piloted with some classes throughout North Leeds and the results are being evaluated and modified. The new system will be rolled out to all pupils by September 2015.

The new system of assessment ‘without levels’ works on the following principles:

  • Objectives taken from the National Curriculum age related expectations are taught by class teachers throughout the year.
  • Class teachers use high quality formative assessment to monitor the day to day achievements of the children. This is recorded on a tracker.
  • Pupils receive targets based on gaps identified in the teacher’s day-to-day assessment and monitoring.
  • At the end of every term, the progress trackers inform the teacher of a “Best-Fit” summative judgement, showing where the child is in relation to their end of year expectations. This information is passed on to parents at parent consultation evenings and/or through written reports.
  • Some standardised reading, writing and maths assessments are used to support summative judgements and provide teachers with national data comparisons. This information also helps to inform the teacher’s overall assessment of the child’s attainment.
  • There will continue to be some form of national assessment at the end of each of the three key stages, although the current SATs system for Year 2 and Year 6 will be abolished in 2016.
  • Phonics screening for year 1 pupils will continue to be used and the results reported to parents.

Consequently, due to all of these changes and modifications in the way information is collected and assessed in school, it is not possible to send out the usual A5 data report sheet at this present time.

Instead, we encourage all parents to attend the upcoming parent consultation evenings on Tuesday 10th March and Thursday 12th March and talk to their child’s class teacher, first-hand, about how their child is doing in class and what they can do to improve further.

Many people are suggesting this move to a new system of assessment will have a detrimental effect on attainment and progress, however, I can see many benefits. Children will hopefully remove any preconceived ideas about where they are in terms of ability in the class and will not fear or dread completing school assessments. Furthermore, there will be an increased desire to achieve mastery within a subject rather than simply wanting to move on quickly to a ‘higher’ and ‘more challenging’ level.

The final piece of information I would like to give you is that for Year 2 and Year 6 children this year they are still working on the “old” national curriculum and will be assessed in the same way as in previous years. Therefore, the year 2 and year 6 class teachers may wish to inform parents, again at the upcoming parent consultation evenings, which levels they are targeting for the Year 2 and Year 6 children and where those children are currently working. The children in these two classes will start working on the new national curriculum objectives from next year (2015/2016). This is a statutory requirement set out by the current government’s educational reforms.

Implications for this are that family siblings may now be taught slightly different methodologies and calculation methods in Maths, different spelling rules in Literacy and different topics in Science temporarily, depending on which school year the children are in. By 2015/2016 all children will be following the new national curriculum objectives.

Further information on assessing without levels
Below you will find a brief guide for parents and carers in our Trust and an Assessment Handbook which details specific subject expectations for each year group.