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Assessment without Levels

Assessment Without Levels

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 the last Academic Year. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment will look very different to how it has done for the past 20 years. The aim of this guide 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 at St. Peter’s Catholic Academy.

The End of Curriculum Levels

The Department for Education (DfE) decided that the children who were in Years 2 and 6 last year were 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 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, 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 that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. We have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils, and we have had demonstrations of various tracking systems.

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.

After investigating many different Assessment & Tracking systems, we have decided to use the Quigley Milestones system, which is very good and used by all the schools in the Newman Catholic Collegiate. We selected it as we believe that learning takes time and that some children take longer than others to achieve. We also wanted the focus for progress to be depth of learning rather than just quantity.

How does it work?

There are 3 Milestones.

Milestone 1 is the expectation for the end of Year 2.

Milestone 2 is the expectation for the end of Year 4.

Milestone 3 is the expectation for the end of Year 6.

Milestones will be met initially to a basic level, then an advancing level and for some children, working towards a deep level. We believe depth of learning takes time. They are based on the standards in the new national curriculum programmes of study and meet all the standards of the new curriculum.

Progress through each of milestone is categorised as below:

Basic 1 Basic 2 Advancing 1 Advancing 2 Deep 1 Deep 2
A basic skill or level of understanding has been learned. The basic skill or understanding can be applied in different situations. The level of skill and understanding can be applied independently in problem solving or any other situation.
Example: number bond to ten.


The child can recall all number bonds to ten in simple number sentences.

The child can apply number bonds to ten to work out the missing number in a number sentence or to solve a problem.


e.g __ + 4 = 10

Number bonds to ten are used efficiently to solve a range of more complex problems.

The expected progress within the milestones is laid out in the table below:

Year Group   End of Year
Year 1 Milestone 1 Basic 2
Year 2 Milestone 1 Advancing 2
Year 3 Milestone 2 Basic 2
Year 4 Milestone 2 Advancing 2
Year 5 Milestone 3 Basic 2
Year 6 Milestone 3 Advancing 2

Therefore, a Year 3 pupil would be making expected progress if assessed at Basic 2 at the end of Year 3.

What does this mean for parents?

The biggest difference is how we will talk to you about how your child is progressing during the year. With the old National Curriculum levels, each year children were given a target for the end of the year, and during the year we would tell you what National Curriculum level your child was at.

For Example: A child could finish Year 3 with a level 3a, and in Year 4 would have a target of a 4b for the end of the year. At Parent’s Evenings throughout the year you may be told that they have moved to a 4c and then on to a 4b.

We could use the levels system this way because there was no correlation between a level and a child’s year group, and this can be seen in the way that in a Year 6 class there could be a range of levels, from level 2 to a level 6. However, the new National Curriculum sets out expectations for each year group or pair of year groups and children will be assessed against those every year, so a child in Year 4 will always be judged in the first instance against the expectations for the end of Milestone 2.

During the year, when we have conversations with you about your child’s progress you will be told whether your child is on track to meet their end of Milestone target. It may well be that they are above or below where they need to be, in which case their end of year target may be adjusted.

So how will national assessment look at the end of each Key Stage?

Key Stage 1

It is anticipated that the majority of children will reach the National Standard for Year 2, a smaller number of children will exceed this standard, and a small number will still be working towards it.

Key Stage 2

Lots of you may have heard of the expression ‘Secondary Ready’ as the standard children must achieve by the end of Year 6. The DfE have slightly distanced themselves from this phrase and are talking about children reaching the National Standard for Year 6. Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be exceeding the standard and some children who are still working towards it.

Please see link below to access teacher assessment frameworks at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 which sets out what children need to be able to demonstrate to be at the expected standard for the end of the Key Stage.