30 Apr

Life without levels

National Curriculum levels are only statutory for pupils at the end of key stages this year and will have been totally removed by next year. However, P scales are remaining and at present there is an ongoing requirement to report P scale achievement at the end of each key stage. This is a confusing time for all schools. So how do we deal with this conundrum?

All schools are trying to get to grips with new forms of assessment and the new National Curriculum. However, it is even more puzzling for special schools. Many special schools will have pupils who achieve within the P scales and those that in old money functioned at National Curriculum levels.

Another problem for special schools (and arguably for all schools) is that we know our pupils make progress but it is not always academic progress. Pupils’ self-esteem improves, their communication improves and they are able to do something such as cross a road or order a drink in a café. Unfortunately, traditional assessment measures do not collect, record and value this information.

This could be a time to be despondent. The present administration’s mantra is that the workforce has the answers and should be given the space to find these answers. I suggest we do just this. Let’s invent new ways of assessing the progress our pupils make them share it with each other. If we develop and share something that will work for us, and similar practices emerge in many schools, then these will gain credibility. Especially if we look to do this alongside challenging each and every one of our pupils in an appropriate way and use robust, moderated measures.

Let’s share knowledge, so that we can move forward together and design assessment practices that really work for our pupils and measure what we value.

It would be interesting to hear what are you doing in your school.