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Assessment without levels
Below is a copy of the letter sent home to parents explaining the changes in assessment. If you have any further queries please contact your class teacher or the headteacher.
Dear Parents and Carers,
New National Curriculum Assessment
I am writing to you to explain some of the changes that we have been working to address in school over the past few months. You may be aware that a new National Curriculum was introduced by the government last September. This has included the removal of the National Curriculum levels that were previously used as a way of describing the level of attainment the children had achieved.
These changes have presented some significant challenges for all schools for a variety of reasons arising, in some part, from the government’s philosophy that schools should be able to create their own curriculum around the statutory framework and that schools should develop their own assessment systems. The expectations in the new National Curriculum are higher in each year group than before which means that the teachers have also been adjusting their plans to make sure that the areas of learning not previously covered have been addressed this year.
The process of development will continue as we evaluate our curriculum and work with other schools in the area to evaluate the best approach to how we should plan and teach the new curriculum. Our overall aim will always be to ensure that our children continue to have outstanding learning opportunities and make excellent progress across all areas.
One change in approach introduced with the new National Curriculum is the expectation that children should work towards ‘age expectations’. These are described in the National Curriculum, further details of which can be found at www.gov.uk/national-curriculum/overview. Our planning is based on these ‘end of year’ expectations. Once children have achieved these the expectation is that they work on developing their breadth of knowledge and skills and their ability to apply these in a variety of contexts, rather than moving on to the objectives of the next year group. This is a very different approach to teaching and one which we, along with all other schools, are continuing to evaluate and determine how best to address.
School are also developing their own systems to track children’s attainment and progress. The government are expected to announce in the autumn term 2015 how Year 2 and 6 will be assessed at the end of the next academic year. As soon as we have more information we will give details to parents. We will also explain the internal system we will be adopting to track progress across all year groups (Year 1 – Year 6). We will be starting to use this in September. After much research and consideration as to which system would be best to meet our needs, we have chosen a system called ‘Target Tracker’. This is used in many schools around the country and we believe it will support us very effectively in making sure that we can track every child’s progress rigorously as well as providing summary data to track the school’s performance. This system does not use ‘levels’ but tracks how well children have achieved different key objectives on an on-going basis and will build an assessment picture for the teachers about each child’s progress so that they can adjust their planning to cover gaps in learning attainment.
Further changes in the approach to assessment have also required us to evaluate and adjust how we mark children’s work and how we build evidence of progress on an on-going basis. You will find that some marking gives children feedback about how to further improve their work. This will be applied in different ways by the teachers to best match the child’s age, ability and their individual next steps in learning.
I understand that this is a lot of information to digest in one go, however I know that many of you are very keen to know how the recent changes will affect how we approach assessment. There will be further up-dates when we have more information.
I hope this gives you an idea of how we are approaching the curriculum and assessment changes. We will be continuing to focus on and develop our approach to make sure that we continue to offer an outstanding education to each and every child at St James.
Mrs E Biddlecombe