A new National Curriculum came into effect from September 2014, and the Department for Education no longer expects schools to use levels when assessing pupils’ attainment. Until such time as new levels are published we will continue to use the old levels for teacher assessment.
If you’re unsure about how to support your child, please ask a teacher in school.
There are lots of ways that you can help your child at home: do make sure, for example, that you read frequently with your child, and support them with the current learning that’s taking place in school. All children work at different levels in different subjects depending on their strengths. They also work at different rates: boys, for example, tend to increase their rate of progress in Key Stage 2/3.
When we refer to expectations, it’s important to remember this. Our teaching is based around the individual child: whilst we consider what the broad national ‘average’ would be, we also very closely consider personal targets and rates of progress. For example, a very able child is challenged to carry out work in a different way or at a different level. This way, all our pupils are expected to make good progress and achieve their potential.
Old National Curriculum levels
When the last National Curriculum was created, national expectations were also set in place. These are known as ‘levels’. Levels are quite broad ‘averages’. They can be made more precise by referring to a low, middle or high level, in the following way:
In primary schools, the majority of pupils begin Year 1 (the start of Key Stage 1) working at around Level 1C (a ‘low’ Level 1). From this point, they are expected to work broadly at the following levels:
Summer term, Year 2 (the end of Key Stage 1)
- pupils work at around Level 2B or 2A (a ‘middle’ or ‘high’ Level 2)
- more able children might achieve a Level 3C / 3B
Summer term, Year 6 (the end of Key Stage 2)
- pupils work at around Level 4B or 4A (a ‘middle’ or ‘high’ Level 4)
- more able children might achieve a Level 5C / 5B / 5A
When deciding on a pupil’s level of attainment, teachers judge a pupil’s performance against different ‘level descriptions’. Some end-of-year tests in English and Maths may also be used. Tests at the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6) are called SATs – these remain statutory requirements.
The Government has established national targets for the proportion of 11-year-olds achieving Level 4 in English and maths at the end of Key Stage 2. Schools are required to set targets for the proportions of their pupils reaching these targets.
Some key characteristics of the different levels of reading are shown below. You can use these to support your child, but they should not be used to make a decision about what level your child is working on because they are not the sole criteria.
Working at Level 1
- Identify the main events and characters in stories, and find specific information in simple texts
- Make predictions showing an understanding of ideas, events and characters
- Recognise the main elements that shape different texts eg lists, comic strips with speech in bubbles, ‘once upon a time’ to show the start of a fairy tale
- Explore the effect of patterns of language and repeated words and phrases
- Select books for personal reading and give reasons for their choices
- Visualise and comment on events, characters and ideas, making imaginative links to their own experiences
- Distinguish fiction and non-fiction texts and the different purposes for reading them
Working at Level 2 (a typical Year 2 child)
- Read independently and with increasing fluency longer and less familiar texts
- Give some reasons why things happen or characters change
- Explain organisational features of texts, including alphabetical order, layout, diagrams, captions, hyperlinks and bullet points
- Explore how particular words are used, including words and expressions with similar meanings eg ‘gasped’ and ‘shouted’
- Read whole books on their own, choosing and explaining their choices
- Explain their reactions and feelings to texts, commenting on important aspects eg which of the characters would be a good friend and why?
Working at Level 3 (a typical Year 3 or Year 4 child)
- Work out a character’s reasons for behaviour from their actions eg why did the character start to shiver?
- Explain how ideas are developed in non-fiction texts eg what was this section all about and how was it different to this section?
- In non-fiction texts, use knowledge of different organisational features of texts to find information effectively
- eg use headings and sub-headings, captions and the index
- In fiction texts, explain how writers use language to create images and atmosphere
- eg why did the writer describe the dog as ‘bouncing around like a ball’?
- Read extensively favourite authors or genres and experiment with other types of text
- Explore why and how writers write eg through online contact with authors (check out Jeremy Strong’s website, or the official Horrid Henry one!)
Working at Level 4 (a typical Year 5 or Year 6 child)
- Understand underlying themes, causes and points of view
- Recognise different ways to argue, persuade, mislead and sway the reader eg read some promotional leaflets and the websites before you go on a day-trip to a theme park or museum!
- Compare different types of narrative and information texts and identify how they are structured
- eg compare different instructions, compare the clever ways Jacqueline Wilson structures her stories
- Explore how writers use language for different effects
- eg why did the writer repeat this word?
- eg why did the writer describe the character’s palms sweating?
- Read extensively and discuss personal reading with others – this is one of the reasons why reading aloud and sharing ideas with others is important, even for older children (why not encourage a reading group with your child and family / friends!)
- Compare how writers present experiences and use language eg compare the Horrid Histories series (Vile Victorians, for example) with a typical non-fiction book and even a fictional story set in Victorian times
Working at Level 5
- Typically, children can continue to develop the areas suggested for Level 4, but at a deeper level and for more challenging texts.
- eg Children able to understand underlying themes, causes and points of view should begin to ‘read between the lines’ and find evidence for their interpretation