Assessment at St Robert Bellarmine
From September 2014, 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 at the beginning of this academic year. This is a new way of thinking for schools and assessment will look very different to how it has looked for the past 20 years. The aim of this page is to, hopefully, give you some clear information about all the changes that are happening in education across the country and what that means for the children here at St Robert Bellarmine Primary School. Before we even think about assessment, we need to be clear on the main changes the new curriculum has brought to subjects that are traditionally assessed.
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 the key core subjects are highlighted below:
The end of levels
The Department for Education (DfE) has decided that the children who are currently in Years 2 and 6 will be the last pupils to be awarded a level in their end of Key Stage tests (Summer 2015).
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, but these were not linked to any particular 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 - 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. We will be tracking progress in a way which is similar to the system used in the Early Years Foundation Stage. It takes the end of year expectations for each year group and splits them into 3 categories as follows:
Under the old levels system children who were ‘working above’ might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the ‘working above’ 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 ‘working towards’ at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below.
The new National Curriculum has raised the expected standard that pupils have to achieve in each year group for Maths and English. Because of this, pupils in years 3, 4 and 5 will have some ‘catching up’ to do where content has now been moved into lower year groups, content that pupils previously didn’t cover when they were in those earlier year groups. At St Robert Bellarmine, we will continue to have an appropriate focus on English and Maths, so that pupils can make this extra progress and we really appreciate the support that parents and carers give at home with homework, including - for example - times tables practice, spelling practice, reading with and to your children and other learning-related homework tasks. We will also be using our more creative aspects of the curriculum as an opportunity to practice our core skills, such as writing. In this way, we can all strive to ensure that pupils leave our school prepared for the next stage in their school lives.
Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to speak to a member of staff.
Our Assessment Principals
Assessment is at the heart of teaching and learning at St Robert Bellarmine.
Assessment is consistent, reliable and transparent
Assessment is ambitious but appropriate
Assessment outcomes are meaningful and accessible