From September 2014, the Government has changed the way in which children in schools are to be assessed. This has been designed to tie in with the New National Curriculum that has begun to be used by all schools at the beginning of this Academic Year.
This is an entirely new way of thinking for schools, and the way in which we assess will look very different to how it has previously done over the past 20 years.
We hope that the following summary will give you some clear information regarding the changes that are happening in Education across the whole country, and what this actually might look like for the children here at Pirehill First School.
We have firstly tried to detail some of the changes the new curriculum has brought to the subjects that are traditionally assessed.
The New National Curriculum 2014
There have been a large number of changes to the National Curriculum, but the key changes to the core subjects are detailed below.
English - The new programme of study for English is knowledge-based; this means its' focus is on knowing facts rather than developing skills and understanding. It is also characterised by an increased emphasis on the technical aspects of language and less emphasis on the creative aspects. English is set out year by year in Key Stage 1 and two-yearly in Key Stage 2. Detailed 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 in the new programme of study 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 within the other areas of study. Essentially, most of the changes to the mathematics curriculum involve content being delivered much earlier and to younger children in year groups.
The End of Curriculum 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 at the end of their Key Stage tests (Summer 2015).
So why are levels disappearing? - Essentially, the DfE want to avoid what has been termed 'The level Race' where children have raced 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 could achieve 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 in reality, actually secure at that level.
The general consensus from the DfE was that the old national curriculum and the system of levels failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.
Assessing Without Levels
In 2013, the DfE announced that National Curriculum levels would be scrapped, and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. At Pirehill, we are currently working alongside our Pyramid Partnership schools to research various different methods for assessing pupils in the future. We have already reviewed a number of commercially produced assessment systems, but are particularly keen to explore a system that will enable the smooth transition across the entire pyramid. This will aid the 2 key transfer points at the end of Year 4 in Key Stage 2 and also at the end of Year 8 in Key Stage 3.
The school currently uses Assessment Manager systems produced by Capita, in SIMS for tracking children's performance but this may well change over the forthcoming year. We will of course, keep you updated as to how progress is being made towards developing a new system for ensuring the effective management of pupil data across the Stone Schools Partnership in the very near future.