Since September 2014 National Curriculum Levels have ceased to be used nationally. The new measures of “Attainment 8” and “Progress 8” place a focus on progress from KS2 to KS4, with a much freer rein for schools to track at KS3.
Like many outstanding schools, we support the decision, but want to take time to decide upon our replacement. Consequently, we have continued to use the levels for the academic year 2014/15 and into 2015/16. They are well understood by pupils and parents and, despite the issues which led to their demise, still provide a useful means of tracking and target setting. This will be the last Y7 cohort to have been taught with levels and indeed have a KS2 level rather than score – so it seems a most sensible option to retain levels for them.
The Teaching and Learning Working Party have looked at options for the replacement of levels. We feel that the use of numbers in the future will be confusing, as the English and mathematics GCSE specifications which will be taught from September 2015 will use a numbered system from 1-9 rather than grades. Similarly, grades from A*-C are still in use for GCSEs in other subjects, prohibiting their use. Nonetheless, whatever is chosen must allow pupils and parents to understand how well they are progressing.
In line with primaries and some other secondary schools, we propose that words will be used to describe progress to avoid overlap with other measures. These words must be able to describe progress, be used universally across subjects but allow freedom within faculties to assign descriptors to the words. The words we think are most useful are DEVELOPING, SECURE and EXTENDING.
|Old level equivalent:||3-4||5-6||7-8|
|New GCSE prediction||1,2,3||4,5,6||7,8,9|
|Bloom’s Taxonomy Links||Remembering and Understanding||Application and Analysing||Evaluating and Creating|
CAT tests / KS2 scores would be used as the baseline data to set a target region. If more detail is required, the three descriptions could be split into developing -, developing , developing +, secure -, secure, secure +, extending -, extending and extending +.
Each faculty will use the strands from the National Curriculum and skills in their subjects to decide what is assessed and what corresponds to the descriptors.
At Key Stage 4 mathematics and English will use grades 1-9 from September 2015. The content of both subjects has changed substantially, but we have added curriculum time to maths to accommodate this, and English will benefit from the time gained by the removal of controlled assessment.
For the academic year 2015/16 all other GCSE subjects will be graded A*-G, but the new specifications for them will come into force for teaching from September 2016.
Research and experience have shown us that streaming at Key Stage 3 leads to higher achievement. Setting is effective in some subjects at Key Stage 3, but would not be feasible in a school of our size for all subjects. Consequently, for years 7 to 9 we stream all students on entry, placing them into broad bands based on KS2 results and CAT tests. The groups will clearly vary depending on the cohort, but we usually have two larger fast paced groups (D and G) which are completely parallel. There are then two parallel medium paced groups – I and K. All four follow exactly the same curriculum. In Y8 and 9 they can choose from French and German for their second language. Maths is setted separately and these four groups form sets 1-4.
There are two further groups – S and W. These are slower paced and W is usually significantly smaller to allow the most 1:1 time with the lowest ability students. These two groups form sets 5 and 6 for maths and these students only study one foreign language.
At Key Stage 4 maths and English have complete freedom to set students by ability in their subject. Other subjects use a mixture of mixed ability and setting, depending on options groups.
For further information on Curriculum and Assessment at St Gregory’s, click here