Assessment and Reporting at St Joseph’s Primary School
The Government has made a huge change in the way that children in schools are to be assessed. This is to tie in with the New National Curriculum that started to be used by all schools in September 2014. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment and reporting now looks very different to how it has looked for the past 20 years. The aim of this guide is to hopefully give you some clear information about all the changes and what that means for your children here at St. Joseph’s.
The End of Curriculum Levels
The DfE want to avoid what has been termed ‘The level Race’ where children have 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 a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test—but were not secure at that level. The feeling from the DfE was that the old national curriculum and the levels system was confusing for parents and failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth 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. We have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils. Almost all of the systems used the same format, which was similar to the system used in the Early Years and Foundation Stage. This was to take the end of year expectations for each year group and to split this into three categories – Emerging, Developing and Secure.
Under the old levels system children who were secure might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the secure bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop the use of the skills and knowledge they have acquired.
Therefore we now assess pupils according to the following categories:
- Emerging - Beginning to acquire the knowledge and skills related to the curriculum.
- Developing - Yet to be secure in the end of year expectations.
- Secure - Secure in the overwhelming majority of the end of year expectations.
Key Stage 1
It is anticipated that a typical child will reach Year 2 Secure by the end of KS1, a smaller number of children may achieve beyond this and begin to access the Year 3 curriculum. It is anticipated that a small number of children may still be working at Year 2 Emerging or Developing.
Key Stage 2
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 but they are essentially talking about Year 6 Secure as being the desired outcome for the majority of pupils. Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be assessed as working beyond the Year 6 curriculum and some children who will be working below that. This may also include a small number of children whose outcomes are still linked to Year 5 or Year 4 curriculum outcomes.
After investigating many different Assessment & Tracking systems, we have decided to use the Southwark Targeting and Reporting System (STAR), which is used by a number of schools in the borough of Southwark. STAR will enable teachers to keep track of pupil progress on a termly basis by entering a value for a pupil based on the ‘Assessment Without Levels’ categories as described above.
This data will be scrutinised regularly by the Headteacher, the Leadership Team and Subject Leaders to ensure that all pupils are progressing at the appropriate rate from their individual starting points. In other words, if a pupil was working at Year 2 Secure at the end of Year 2, it is envisaged that they will achieve Year 3 Secure at the end of Year 3 too. If a pupil is not making appropriate progress the tracker will help us to identify this and we will be able to intervene accordingly.
This year we have created Learning Journeys for Writing and Maths. These bookmarks identify the most important objectives of the curriculum. These are known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the teachers use these to assess against. The KPIs have been ‘translated’ into child friendly language so that our pupils can also keep track of their own progress. The bookmarks are kept in the childrens’ exercise books so that they can be completed regularly and inform an ongoing dialogue between staff and pupils about progress and attainment.
On a termly basis, the Assessment Bookmarks along with test scores and other assessment data provide us with a snapshot of how each child is progressing and this is entered on the STAR system.
The biggest difference is how we will talk to pupils and parents about progress and attainment. With the old National Curriculum, children were given a target level for the end of the year, and during the year we would report about progress towards that National Curriculum level. For example, a child could finish Year 3 with a level 3a, and in Year 4 would have a target of 4b for the end of the year. At Parent’s Evenings throughout the year you may be told that they have moved to a 4c and then on to a 4b.
We could use the levels system this way because there was no correlation between a level and a child’s year group, and this can be seen in the way that in Year 6 there could be a range of levels, from level 3 to a level 6. However, 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.
At the start of each new academic year, teachers will make a baseline assessment to determine starting points and desired outcomes for each pupil. A typical child will be deemed to be Emerging in their given year group as they are being judged against the Performance Standards for the end of year. 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. Remember, a typical child will be ‘expected’ to achieve the Secure grade at 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 they are on this scale. 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 their end of year target may be adjusted.
We hope that you find this guide useful.