Assessment without levels

With the new National Curriculum Framework, which was introduced in September 2014, the Department for Education also announced the removal of levels. The government had realised when they developed the new national curriculum that levels “…were not sufficiently aligned with its content, aims and ethos.” Levels were introduced over two decades ago in 1988, originally intended only for use in statutory national assessments, they came to be used for in-school assessment between key stages in order to monitor whether pupils were on track to achieve expected levels at the end of the key stages. The Commission on ‘Assessment without Levels’ believed that this had a “…profoundly negative impact on teaching.” The policy of removing level descriptors from the National Curriculum is set out in terms of freeing schools from an imposed measure of pupil progress with a change in focus to “…high-quality, in-depth teaching, supported by in-class formative assessment…”. Good formative assessment ranges from the probing question put the pupil as they think something through; quick recap questions at the opening of a lesson; scrutiny of the natural work of pupils; right through to formal tests.

Assessment goes hand-in-hand with the curriculum; but it is good formative assessment that goes to the very heart of good teaching.

(Final Report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels)

(In-school/in-class formative assessment is used by teachers to evaluate pupils’ knowledge and understanding on a day-to-day basis and tailor teacher accordingly.)

Assessment at Hartley Primary Academy

We have worked to develop a system that enables us to be clear why pupils are being assessed, what the assessment is intended to achieve and how the assessment information will be used.

Working with our parents at Hartley

We are working with parents and have set up a ‘Parent Group’ who represent children from Foundation to Year 5 to act as our ‘critical friend’ in developing reporting to parents. We had our first meeting before the February ‘Parent Information Evening’ and plan to have another session as we develop our ‘End of Year Reports’.

Parent Information Evenings

Click below for examples of questions taken from the KS2 Sample Papers for English Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling, Arithmetic Test and the reading test (along with answers and spellings from the ‘Year 3 and 4 Spelling List’ and ‘Year 5 and 6 Spelling List’):

Click below for examples of writing working at the expected standards at KS1 and KS2:

An interesting article published in the Guardian in November 2015 by Michael Rosen, the well-known children’s author and poet.

The Purpose of Assessment at Hartley Primary Academy

Pupils are being assessed to:

  • Help drive improvement for pupils and teachers
  • Give reliable information to parents about how their child, and their child’s school is performing
  • Make sure that we keep up with external best practice and innovation

Assessment of pupils’ attainment and progress is directly linked to the curriculum. The principles that underpin our assessment system at Hartley Primary Academy are the:

  • National Curriculum 2014 objectives, split into “age-related expectation”, used as expectations for all children.
  • Use of subject specific “age-related expectations” to track progress of children (click here for more details about “age-related expectations” and how we report how much of the “age-related expectations” your child has achieved )
  • Importance of teaching our children about their thinking and how to be successful learners through:
  • A “Growth Mind-set” with the belief that every child can achieve.
  • Our STAIRS to Success (Self-Confident, Tenacious, Aspiring, Independent, Responsible and Sensible learners)
  • Thinking Maps’ to make children aware of the different elements to the thinking process and support them with a visual aid

Assessment at Hartley Primary Academy will take the form of:

  • Day-to-day in-school/in-class formative assessment, for example:
    • Question and answer sessions during lessons
    • Marking of pupils’ work and providing developmental feedback
    • Observational assessments
    • Peer assessments
    • Scrutiny of books and work to identify pupil attainment and development
    • Quizzes or quick recap questions at the beginning or end of lessons
  • In-school summative assessment, for example:
    • End of term tests, six times a year
    • Reviews for pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN)
  • Statutory National Standardised summative assessments:
    • Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS):
      • Baseline assessment at the beginning of Reception (Statutory from Sep 2016)
      • EYFS assessment against the Early Learning Goals (for 2016 only)
    • Key Stage 1 (5-7 year olds):
      • Phonics Screening in Year 1 and re-assessment in Y2 for those who do not achieve Threshold in Year 1.
      • National Curriculum teacher assessments at the end of KS1.
    • Key Stage 2 (8-11 year olds):
      • National Curriculum tests at the end of KS2.

The purpose of these forms of assessment for:

Pupils is to inform them of their achievements and where they need to improve:

  • during lessons
  • over a term

and how they perform in comparison to pupils nationally.

Parents is to provide a ‘broad picture’ of their child’s achievements and areas for development, as well as attainment and progress over time. The national tests will provide parents with information on how Hartley Primary Academy is performing in comparison to schools nationally.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants is identify gaps in pupil performance both in lessons and at the end of a term to enable planning of future lessons and interventions; an integral part of teaching and learning. The national tests help teachers assess their own performance and that of the school in a broader national context.

School Leaders is to ensure effective formative assessment so that each child will be appropriately supported to make progress and meet expectations. Formative and in-school summative judgements will be monitored and evaluated through in-school, across Trust and with local Primaries moderation to identify where interventions may be required. National summative assessments enable Hartley Primary Academy to benchmark our performance against other schools locally and nationally and make judgements about our effectiveness, sharing these with our School Governors.

Over time we will be working with pupils, teachers, teaching assistants, parents, Leigh Academies Trust Primary Academies and local Primary Schools to support our successful transition to assessment without levels.

At Hartley Primary Academy we aim for:

  • Pupils to have a better understanding of how they are doing and where they need to target their efforts to progress.
  • Pupils to take ownership of their learning and using ‘the language of learning’ developed through theSTAIRS to Success and Habits of Mind to confidently speak with their teachers about attainment and progress.
  • Teachers are confident using day-to-day formative assessment to better inform their teaching practices and lesson planning.
  • School Leaders will know that assessments are being used effectively to ensure the full curriculum is being delivered effectively and is being accessed by all pupils.
  • Parents are well informed about their child’s achievements and progress linked with our curriculum.
  • A strong partnership with parents and carers and improved outcomes for all pupils.

Click here for the Assessment Policy for Leigh Primary Academies