Changes to the National Curriculum and Assessment
Following on from the introduction of a new national curriculum last year (2014), the government has introduced a further change this year – this is ‘assessment without levels’. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment for children in KS1 and KS2 will look very different from how it has been done for the past 20 years. The aim of this guide is to give you information about the changes that are happening in Education across the country and what that means for the children here at Faldingworth School.
The new curriculum is intended to be more challenging and focuses on essential core subject knowledge and skills. The examples below give a snapshot of how the new programmes of study are more demanding than the previous National Curriculum:
- There is a stronger emphasis on vocabulary development, grammar, punctuation and spelling (for example, the use of commas and apostrophes is now taught in KS1)
- Spoken English has a greater emphasis, with children being taught debating and presenting skills
- Five-year-olds are now expected to learn to count up to 100 (and learn number bonds to 20).
- By the age of nine, children are now expected to know times tables up to 12x12
The feeling from the Department for Education 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. They also believed that parents found the numerical levels system difficult to understand. They have therefore introduced a new assessment methodology, designed to make the information you receive easier to understand
Assessment Without Levels
For the last twenty years, schools have assessed children’s progress in KS1 and KS2 against ‘level descriptors’ and reported these judgements to parents by explaining children’s abilities with a numerical level. This system is now discontinued. We now have to report to you how your child is performing in relation to national
expectations, in much the same way as we do with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. These expectations relate explicitly to the new National Curriculum. At Faldingworth School we will hopefully make this system transparent with the introduction of three key terms:
Entering— This means that children are achieving the standards expected for a child in the specified year group
Developing—The child is developing his or her understanding of the skills and concepts
Secure—Children should be secure in the national curriculum requirements for their year group by the end of the school year.
So, a year 6 child who is achieving ‘year 6 secure’ by the end of year 6 is achieving at the expected level, whereas a child in year 3 who is assessed as ‘entering year 3’ by the end of year 3 could be described as falling behind the national expectations.
It is very difficult under this new system for all but the most exceptional pupils to achieve at ‘above national expectations’ because once they are secure, teachers are expected to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to give children more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills rather than introduce new curriculum content.
It is important to be aware that a child who was performing at national expectations when studying the old curriculum, will now have to achieve a great deal more as the expectations under the new curriculum are much higher.
Schools are expected to establish their own assessment systems to suit their children and parents. At our school we are now using a computerised recording system which catalogues which elements of the national curriculum children are beginning to understand, the areas in which they are progressing with their understanding, and the areas in which understanding is embedded. We use this data to create targets for children’s further learning and to provide clear and detailed information for parents.
We look forward to talking to you about your child’s progress throughout the year – our next parents’ evening is on October 21st - and hope that this guide will help you to understand the terminology teachers use, and also the reason why there has been so much change.
I hope that this letter has provided you with helpful information about these important changes in education.. We intend to hold a parent workshop to help strengthen your understanding once the new system is fully embedded. If you have any further questions please approach Mrs. Grummell.