Birchwood Primary School

 Band 1            Band 2           Band 3         Band 4          Band 5         Band 6

Assessment Without Levels

The Government has made a huge change in the way that children in schools are to be assessed. This is to tie in with the National Curriculum that came into place by all schools September 2014. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment will look very different to how it has done for the past 20 years. The aim of this guide is to hopefully give you some clear information about all the changes that are happening in Education across the country, and what that means for the children here at Birchwood Primary School. Before we even think about assessment we need to be clear on what changes the new curriculum has brought to subjects that are traditionally assessed.

Curriculum 2014

So, what are the changes to the curriculum? It would take far too long to cover the whole curriculum, particularly in any great depth. But the main changes to the key core subjects are highlighted below.

English - The new programme of study for English is knowledge-based; this means its focus is on knowing facts, developing skills and understanding. It is also characterised by an increased emphasis on the technical aspects of language with emphasis on the creative aspects. English is set out year by year in Key Stage 1 and two-yearly in Key Stage 2. Appendices give specific content to be covered in the areas of spelling and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. These are set out yearly across both key stages.

Mathematics - The main areas in the new programme of study for mathematics are called domains. These are number, measurement, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion and algebra. Two of these, number and geometry, are further divided into subdomains. The way that the curriculum is organised varies across the primary age range – every year group has a unique combination of domains and subdomains. There is no longer a separate strand of objectives related to using and applying mathematics. Instead, there are problem-solving objectives within the other areas of study. Most of the changes to the mathematics curriculum involve content being brought down to earlier years, (detailed year group breakdowns of these programmes of study can be found on the School’s website under ‘parent guides’).


The DfE announced in 2015 that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. We spent a long time researching various different methods and software for assessing pupils. Most of the systems use a similar format, that resemble the system used in the Early Years Foundation Stage. We are using Essex Tracker to aid the monitoring and reporting for all our children, it uses 3 categories in line with National reporting as follows:


Dfe Descriptor

Birchwood Equivalent (as in Essex Tracker)



Beginning / Working Within

Yet to be secure in the end of year expectations



Secure in the majority of the end of year expectations


Secure +

Secure in almost all / all the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.

(The statements are then sub-divided further to reflect the depth and breadth of understanding in each Band – beginning plus, working within plus, secure plus – totaling a six-step system)

Any children who are exceeding and have already secured their depth and breadth of knowledge will be able to work towards the end of year expectations from the year above. Birchwood Primary School will ensure the Mastery and Depth phase of learning is applied for all children.  Any child likely to be ‘Secure’ at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year above.  Similarly any child that is not likely to be ‘Beginning’ at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below. 


So how will this look at the end of each Key Stage?


Key Stage 1




End of Year 1

Band 1


End of Year 2

Band 2


Higher ability children (HAPS) may be ‘Beginning’ Band 3 at the end of key stage 1.

Key Stage 2




End of Year 3

Band 3


End of Year 4

Band 4


End of Year 5

Band 5


End of Year 6

Band 6


Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be Year 6 exceeding and some children who are Year 6 beginning. There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. Year 4/5 beginning/working within/secure.

 Throughout the year, when we have conversations with you about your child’s progress you will be told whether your child is on track to meet their end of year target. It may well be that they are above or below where they need to be, in which case their end of year target may be adjusted.

You will be able to see the band descriptors for each year group showing all the subject specific statements that your child is working towards. 

We hope that you find this guide useful to help you understand why the DfE has changed assessment and what Birchwood has done to meet the new requirements.

 If you have any queries whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact me at school.


Best wishes,


Steve Cloke