In 2015, the Department for Education took the decision to remove the National Curriculum assessment levels as the main way in which primary schools were held to account for children’s outcomes and for how schools might choose to describe progress and attainment over time. The main purpose behind the changes was to enable schools and teachers to develop a school curriculum that is relevant to their pupils and meets the end of year outcomes required for the new National Curriculum. The removal of assessing pupils against a ‘level’ allowed schools to develop their own approaches to formative assessment – referred to as ‘assessment without levels’: the idea being that children could be assessed against what they knew from effective teaching, monitoring, feedback and intervention.
Here at Castletown Primary school we take the achievements of all pupils as being key to our continued success and therefore have developed guidance to support formative and summative assessment of pupils against expectations of what should be taught in English and maths by the end of each key stage. The assessment criteria ensures that teachers know what pupils must achieve by the end of each stage within their primary education in order to prepare them to be ready for secondary education when leaving Year 6. As a school, we are aware of the need to provide genuine opportunities for greater school autonomy over the curriculum and assessment; assessment that will focus teaching on the core content rather than on a set of level descriptions.
Pupils at Castletown Primary school are formally assessed on an ongoing basis and their progress tracked against national expectations (called Age Related Expectations). Assessments are reported termly to the Head Teacher, Leadership Team, Governors and parents, as required. We do not want to assess everything we teach, as this is being done continuously as part of good classroom teaching. However, we have identified key programmes of study which are significant for children to know and understand at the end of academic years in order for them to be able to move on to the following years programmes of study. Additionally, pupils will sit a termly summative assessment to support and reinforce teacher assessment. At the end of Years 2 & 6 pupils will sit Statutory National Curriculum Tests (SATs); the results of which will be published to allow our school to celebrate the performance of our pupils’ against other schools nationally, locally and with a similar intake.
Our school has a curriculum and assessment framework that meets a set of core principles which:
- sets out steps so that pupils reach or exceed the end of key stage expectations in the new national curriculum;
- enables them to measure whether pupils are on track to meet end of key stage expectations;
- enables them to pinpoint the aspects of the curriculum in which pupils are falling behind, and recognise exceptional performance;
- supports teaching planning for all pupils; and
- enables them to report regularly to parents and, where pupils move to other schools, providing clear information about each pupils strengths, weaknesses and progress towards the end of key stage expectations.
Through timely assessment and feedback to our pupils, we will ensure that all pupils achieve their maximum potential. The attainment of each pupil will be measured against end of year Age Related Expectations and reported as falling within one of four categories:
Emerging – Working below the year group expectations
Developing— Working within the year group expectations but not yet secure in the end of year expectations.
Secure —Pupils have achieved the majority of the end of year expectations (most children will achieve this standard).
Mastery—Fully secure in almost all or all the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.
Under the old levels system, children who were secure in the age expectations 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 their using and applying skills: they are calling this phase of learning Mastery and Depth. Similarly, children who are unlikely to be at least ‘developing’ at the end of the academic year will be working towards the year group expectations, with interventions and support offered to help them to begin to work at the age related curriculum objectives.
So how will this look at the end of each Key Stage?
Key Stage 1
It is anticipated that most of the children will reach the assessment point of Year 2 Secure (they have achieved most the year group objectives), some children will be working at Year 2 Mastery (they have achieved virtually all the objectives),while a very small number will be assessed at the Year 2 Developing standard or below (intensive support will be provided for children in this category to help them ‘catch up’).
Key Stage 2
Similar to Year 2, most children will leave Year 6 as secure (achieved most objectives), some children will be assessed as Year 6 Mastery (achieved virtually all objectives and able to use and apply these) while a very small minority of children will be Year 6 developing (achieved a minority of objectives). There may also be a very small number of children who are still working at a lower level below the age expectations, who will receive intensive support to help access age related expectations.
How has Covid-19 impacted on assessment and progress?
At Castletown Primary we are aware of the need to close gaps in our pupils curriculum knowledge caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We strongly believe that disruption to schooling should not be used as an ongoing excuse to widening gaps but an opportunity to target appropriate support to pupils in order to rapidly repair their learning and to build motivation and confidence. We recognise that all learners, including the most disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEND, should be provided with the knowledge, skills and cultural capital they need to catch up quickly and succeed in life. Through whole school assessment, a number of 'catch up' intervention programmes have been established across school to support our pupils learning.