From this September, the Government made significant changes 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 at the beginning of last academic year. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment will look very different to how it has been completed for the past 20 years.
Changes to the curriculum 2014
So, what are the changes to the curriculum? It would take far too long to cover the whole curriculum, particularly in any great depth but the main changes to English and Mathematics are highlighted below.
English – The new requirements for English is characterised by an increased emphasis on the technical aspects of language. English is set out year by year in Key Stage 1 and two-yearly in Key Stage 2. Appendices give specific content to be covered in the areas of spelling and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. These are set out yearly across both key stages.
Mathematics – The main areas for mathematics are called domains. These are number, measurement, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion and algebra. Two of these, number and geometry, are further divided into subdomains. The way that the curriculum is organised varies across the primary age range – every year group has a unique combination of domains and subdomains. There is no longer a separate strand of objectives related to using and applying mathematics. Instead, there are problem-solving objectives. Most of the changes to the mathematics curriculum involve content being brought down to earlier years.
The End of Curriculum Levels
So why are levels disappearing?
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. At the end of Key Stage 2, children were aiming to achieve the expected standards of Level 4 or above in the tests. However, the DfE view was children were not always secure at that level. Indeed, the DfE view was that the old national curriculum and the levels system failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.
Assessing without Levels
The DfE announced last year that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. Schools across Southampton have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils. Almost all of the systems currently use similar formats, which are 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 3 categories as follows:
- Working below the expected standard— yet to be secure in the end of year expectations.
- Working at the expected standards —secure in the end of year expectations.
- Working at greater depth —secure in 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 exceeding might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the exceeding 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. Only exceptional children will move into working towards the end of year expectations from the year above. Similarly, children who are unlikely to be emerging at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below.
For the guide to the new system please download from Assessment without Levels_Flyer for Parents Dec 2015 as to what this will mean for you and your child.
We are on hand to answer any questions you might have! Don’t forget to have a look at our Curriculum leaflets for each year group, this will help you to know what is expected of your child.