The way all children in England and Wales are assessed at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 is changing from May 2016. As a result of this, the way that we track pupil progress throughout the school is also changing. This is a brief introduction to the new assessment systems, and further details can be found in the school’s updated assessment guide.

Update Dec 2015: a page containing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about assessment can be found here.

KS1 and KS2 assessments

All children in England and Wales sit standard tests (SATs) at the end of KS1 (year 2) and KS2 (year 6). In the past, these resulted in each child being given a national curriculum level. The national standard for expected attainment was level 2b at KS1 and level 4 at KS2.

From May 2016, these levels are being replaced with a scaled score. The national standard will be represented by a score of 100. Children exceeding the expected standard will receive a score proportionally above 100; those below the standard will receive a score below 100.

Tracking Progress Within Key Stages

We track the progress of every pupil throughout their time at the school. In the past, this has been aligned with national curriculum levels so that we could see each child’s progress towards the national standard. With the removal of levels, this system is no longer appropriate. Additionally, the new national curriculum introduced in September 2014 encourages children to master the skills they have been taught in each year, rather than trying to move ahead to the curriculum for an older year group. This is to encourage greater depth of learning, rather than “teaching to the test”.

There is no national standard for this ongoing tracking of progress, with schools expected to choose and implement their own assessment systems. We have chosen a system that compares pupils’ performance to the expectations of their year group, moving through the year from Emerging (E) to Developing (D) to Secure (S). So a typical child starting year 4 in September 2015 would begin at Y3S (year 3 secure) having reached the expected level for year 3 by the end of the previous year. They would reach Y4E (year 4 emerging) in the autumn 2015 term, Y4D (developing) in spring 2016, and finish year 4 at Y4S (secure) in summer 2016.


Each child has a separate assessment for reading, writing and maths.


In addition to the Emerging, Developing and Secure grades within each year group, “mastery levels” indicate how well children can apply their learning. There are 4 levels of mastery:

  1. Below the expected standard depth of application and understanding
  2. At the expected standard
  3. Above the expected standard
  4. Well above the expected standard

So the typical child used in the example above would finish year 4 at mastery level 2. This is represented by Y4S#2. A child who excels at applying their learning would have a mastery level of 4, represented by Y4S#4.

Only in exceptional circumstances would that child be assessed against year 3 or year 5 expectations – the vast majority will be assessed only against the expectations of their year group.


Therefore, a child assessed as Y2S#2 at the end of year 2 should expect to score 100 in the KS1 SATs; a child assessed as Y6S#2 at the end of year 6 should expect to score 100 in the KS2 SATs. Those children with higher mastery levels would expect SATs scores over 100.

This is a significant change from the old system, where children were often assessed at national curriculum levels 1, 2 or even 3 years above the expected level for their age. Very able children will be expected to add depth and mastery to their learning, rather move onto next year’s objectives.

As a result of this, it is not appropriate to make a direct comparison between your child’s progress in the old system and the new system, and any attempt to do so will give misleading results. Therefore it is best to consider September 2015 to be a new baseline from which your child’s progress is being measured, and not compare it with the final reports from the old system in June 2015.

This represents a significant change in the way children are assessed, and we would encourage all parents to read the full assessment guide and the frequently asked questions page for more details.