What is Assessment without levels?

From this September, the Government has made a huge change to the content of the National Curriculum and the way that children in schools are to be assessed. The New National Curriculum is now implemented by all schools. This is a new way of thinking for schools and, as a result, assessment will look very different to how it has for the past 20 years.

Why make the changes?

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; however the DfE concluded that although a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test they were not secure at that level. The feeling from the DfE was that the old national curriculum and the levels system failed adequately to ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.

This led to a new curriculum being devised but no clear assessment guidance for schools.

As a forward thinking school, we have considered a number of different systems. We now have a clear and robust system in place which follows county guidance. With no clear guidance from the government there will of course be significant variation in the method of data collection between schools. To ensure reliable and fair data across the area we have arranged to work with the other Folkestone schools to ensure all assessments are moderated. This enables all pupils in the local area to have a fair and robust assessment.

What is different?

  • No more use of levels and sub levels.
  • Significantly higher expectations in the year group content.
  • A clear focus on deepening learning and achieving mastery within a specific year rather than moving to a new years’ curriculum.
  • High focus on teacher assessment rather than formal tests.

How will we assess learning at St Mary’s?

All pupils will start the school year with the expectation that they reach the age expected outcomes or higher by the end of that year.

As a fully inclusive school, we take pride in our support of individual differences and the understandable impact this can have on the rate of knowledge and skill acquisition. For this reason we recognise that pupils may not be working at their age expected curriculum. We will report to you on a termly basis including three written reports that summarise your child’s learning. You will be informed of their attainment band and the curriculum they are following. As we are delivering a new curriculum with significantly higher expectations, some pupils will need to cover a previous year’s curriculum to cover any missed skills.

The reports you receive will give a curriculum year and an attainment band. For example, Year 3 Emerging, Band 16.

  • Below – Pupils are not yet ready for their age expected curriculum and will be completing a previous year’s curriculum. They will receive additional support and be supported by the school’s inclusion team so that they can catch up.
  • Emerging- Pupils are working towards their age related expectation and should meet expected targets. (Pupils at age appropriate expectations should be secure at this stage by assessment point 2)
  • Expected – Pupils are working at age related expectations. (Pupils should be secure at this stage by assessment point 4)
  • Exceeding- Pupils are working above age related expectations and will receive enrichment and extension. They may in exceptional cases work on next year’s curriculum.

Measuring Progress

Pupil progress is measured by the number of steps made across a range of 39 steps. From Reception to Year 6

  • These steps are divided into bands with 2 steps within a band. Each curriculum year has 3 bands: emerging, expected and exceeding.
  • A child making good progress will make 6 or more steps each academic year.


The New Curriculum has impacted on every school across the country. We have already seen some real strengths with it and the new assessment approach. In particular;

  • Gaps in learning are now quickly identified and addressed
  • Pupils are able to study topics in depth and master the skills appropriate to their age
  • Parents are clear on which skills their child needs to develop
  • Assessment and reporting is simple.

Please see the document below for additional information.

If you have any questions be do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.

Attainment bands



Assessment - Parents Complete Guide 788.08 KB