As a school we worked hard across the academic year 2014-2015 to put in place our own school system for assessing children without levels. Across the autumn, spring and summer terms we worked on developing our understanding of the new curriculum content, whilst embedding the use of our own school designed assessment tools across all core and foundation subjects. During the autumn term of 2015 we further refined our assessment tools, matching them to both the test and Interim frameworks. During the spring term of 2016 we started to look at how we could build our own bespoke digital tracking system to match our assessment approach and our own curriculum.  By the end of summer 2016 we were able to use the Integris MIS to build our tracking system from scratch. This digital system has been shared with other Bury primary schools and currently our DHT is supporting 18 Bury Primary schools to build their own Integris sytems. Our overall approach has provided us with our own common professional assessment language, which we use with our own school built assessment tools.

We have seen the removal of levels as an opportunity for us to build our own assessment system that meets the needs of our children and centres on the judgements of our staff who know what the children can do and what they need to do next. For us, our focus is on meaningful dialogue between all members of our community and living data that provides us with the information we need in a format that we have devised. As a school we have built our own assessment tools that allow us to track children against national standards as they move through each year group. The assessment tools we have developed are providing us with an accurate picture of what children can do and as a staff we are continually working together to moderate and discuss the judgements we are making, whilst also working with other local schools to compare judgements. Below you can see what our tools look like.


The aim of this page is to keep you updated with the changes that are happening, where we are up to as a school, the national picture of assessment and explain some of the new terminology that we will start to use about the attainment and progress of our children.

As a school, the new system we have devised and implemented ensures:

  • Children receive appropriate feedback to take their learning forward.
  • Children who need further support are identified and given appropriate support to ensure they achieve their full potential.
  • Teacher’s use day to day observations and marking to adapt planning to meet the needs of all.
  • Parents will be provided with a clear indication of where their child is working in relation to their age expectation at progress meetings and in an end of year report; all of which will focus on what children need to do next to take their learning forward.

Why the change?

The government felt that the system of levels was too complicated and confusing. By removing the levels it is felt that schools will be able to give a clearer indication of if children are at age expectation, whilst providing information about what they can do and need to do next. Therefore schools have been given the freedom to design their own tracking systems to say where children are in relation to the prescribed age expected content for each year group. This will be benchmarked against the national tests at the end of KS1/KS2 and the Y1 Phonic Screening Check

The new national curriculum became statutory in September 2014 for Y1, 3, 4 & 5 and  for Y2 & 6  in September 2015. Expectations across all year groups were raised and new more challenging tests were developed for use at the end of KS1 (Year 2) and KS2 (Year 6). Alongside these new tests there remains for 2017-2018 the interim frameworks for reading, writing and maths, where teachers match a child’s performance across the year to a standard. Our assessment tools are fully aligned to the interim frameworks to ensure that our teacher assessments accurately reflect national standards. Our view is that our system and formats for presenting our current position provide all of the relevant information for our staff, parents and external stakeholders, so we do not produce paperwork or documentation that is not already a part of our approach.

Click the picture below to read one of the initial reports commissioned by the NAHT (National Association of Head teachers) about assessment without levels.


What terminology will we use in school between practitioners?

In the new curriculum, each year group has its own clearly defined content across all subjects, which we refer to as our KC’s (Key Content). In our school we have decided what our KC’s are across all subjects and in each year group, to ensure that they reflect our own unique Enquiry Curriculum. Our assessment tools outline our KC’s and simply have the number 1-6 alongside them to identify the year group the content belongs to. This allows us to pinpoint exactly where an individual child is working and allows class teachers  to help them progressively work through and master our school curriculum through our teaching and learning approach. At the end of each year we look at where every child is within our curriculum, as we are looking at how they are progressing towards the statutory assessment points at the end of Y2 and Y6. It is important to note that every child is an individual who learns and masters things at different rates, so at Unsworth our staff use our own common assessment language at termly check points, which matches to their day to day assessments.

For us the most important aspect of our approach to assessment is the ability for all our teachers and teaching assistants to be able to talk in depth about what an individual child can do and where they need to go next.  Our focus is on what is happening within the classrooms, which is reflected in the children’s books and the comments they make about their learning. Therefore any terminology we use is purely summative and acts as a marker to pinpoint where a child is at a given time. Our professional language is not used with our parents or children, because our learning conversations and assessment reporting focuses on what children can do and where they need to go next, which may be further consolidation, revisiting or extension.

We have high expectations for all of our children from the minute they start their learning journey with us and we endeavour to allow them to achieve their personal best through presenting learning to them that is both fun and challenging.

Below is an overview of our professional “in school” terminology.  For us, these terms mean nothing without the rich qualitative data that comes from our staff and pupils. We do not use them as labels or as a means to limit what children can do. They are simply in the background as markers with meaning for us as a school.


A child is starting to learn our identified school key content (KC) in a particular year group.

  • 1 emerging= a child is starting to learn new key content in the year 1 curriculum
  • 4 emerging=a child is starting to learn new key content in the year 4 curriculum


A child’s learning is fully focussed on our school key content (KC) for a particular year group

  • 1 developing= a child is working on the year 1 curriculum
  • 4 developing= a child is working on the year 4 curriculum


A child can confidently demonstrate an overall grasp of age appropriate key content (KC)

  • 1 Expected= Year 1 end of year expectation
  • 4 Expected=Year 4 end of year expectation

Greater Depth

A child has mastered their age appropriate key content (KC) and is able to use and apply it across the curriculum in a range of contexts.

  • 1 Greater Depth=Year 1 more able
  • 4 Greater Depth=Year 4 more able

How will we record if a child is working at their age expectation?
Children will be working at age expectation (able to use age appropriate skills) if they achieve the outcomes listed below.

Year Group At Age Expectation
Reception Expected (2)
Year 1 1 Expected
Year 2 Working At the National Standard
Year 3 3 Expected
Year 4 4 Expected
Year 5 5 Expected
Year 6 Working At the National Standard

How will we define if a child is more able?
Children will be classed as more able in our school if they are working at “greater depth” (meaning they are able to use their age appropriate skills in a range of different ways) in their age appropriate key content. This will be represented in the national tests at the end of KS1 & KS2 as:

  • KS1-Greater Depth in reading, writing or maths
  • KS2-Greater Depth in writing and/or a High score of 110 or more in reading and/or maths

In the old curriculum children were pushed from one sub level to another and were never really given a chance to spend time really exploring their new knowledge. In the new curriculum children will not move onto the next year groups curriculum, but instead will spend time using and applying their new knowledge and understanding to ensure that they are ready to move on. We want children to master key concepts before they move on, which is known as “Mastery Learning” as defined by Benjamin Bloom.

How will the results of the new KS1 and KS2  tests be presented?

In both KS1 and KS2 children’s writing will be teacher assessed against the interim framework, whilst other areas will be assessed through the following tests:

  • Reading
  • Maths
  • Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

It is important to note that there are no different tests and all the children will sit the same test paper. In KS1 these tests will be marked by the teacher and at KS2 they will be sent away to be externally marked. For each test children will receive an age standardised score. A score of 100 indicates a child has achieved their age expectation and met the national standard (A 2 Expected in KS1 or a 6 Expected in KS2). A score below 100 would indicate that  child is below the national standard, which at KS1 is called “working towards ” or “Pre Key Stage Standard”. A score significantly above 100 at around 110 indicates that a child has “mastered” the majority of their age related content and is ready the following academic year to move onto the next Key Stage content. (A 2 Greater Depth in KS1 or a High Score in KS2).  This would be the KS2 curriculum for children at the end of year 2 and the KS3 curriculum for children leaving year 6 and starting high school.

Recently it has been announced that from 2020 a new Reception Baseline Assessment will be introduced to measure children’s progress from and that from 2023 KS1 SAT’s will no longer be statutory or used to measure progress. 

Additional Research and Information

Click each picture below to access the linked website or PDF document.

Unsworth Parent Assessment Leaflet

pdf 1







Performance Descriptor Consultation Response

 levels 3



Assessment Information

levels 2






If any schools are interested in our approach to assessment and the impact it is having within and beyond our own school, you can contact us via email or on Twitter. We would be happy to share the work that we have been doing via our assessment resources page, which you will require a logon from us to access.






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  1. The children I am teaching are not in mainstream school and all are working below age expected outomes. I am really interrested in knowing more about your assessment and use of band
    Regards Deborah khazaal