Summary of Primary Assessment changes

NB: This post has been slightly updated in May 2015 to reflect information updated in the last year (which doesn’t amount to much!)

After 5 months of ruminating on the consultation responses, in March 2014 the DfE finally came up with a plan of sorts for primary assessment and accountability. It’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast. A wholesale change that’s ended up as piecemeal fiddling of the worst sort. The publication was actually relatively brief, but here is a summary of what I believe we found out:

Changes to Assessments


A new baseline assessment will be introduced from September 2015 likely becoming compulsory from 2016. There is no real detail about what this will entail, other than that it will take place in the first few weeks of the reception year. From September 2016, therefore, there will be no requirement to complete an EYFS profile for children. The EYFS framework will remain statutory. Schools have now been invited to sign up for a baseline test to use this year, and we expect to find out in the summer term which of the suppliers have gathered enough uptake to go ahead in September.

Year 1

There is no change proposed to the phonics check.

Year 2 (end of KS1)

Judgements will continue to be made using teacher assessment. However, these are expected to be supported by results of externally-set (but internally-marked) tests in some areas. Scaled scores will be provided, with 100 being the expected outcome for the age group.


There is no indication in the documentation about which, if any, of these results will have to be shared with parents. Presumably this will mean the current system will remain whereby scores don’t have to be reported, but must be shared if parents request them.

More detail about the KS1 tests themselves has now been released and can be read in this blog: New KS1 tests from 2016

Year 3 – 5

No further assessments will be nationally prescribed.

Year 6 (end of KS2)

Both teacher assessment and external testing will be used following a similar model to the current framework.


All aspects will be reported to parents (except Science sampling)

More detail about the KS2 tests themselves has now been released and can be read in this blog: New KS2 tests from 2016

Higher Ability Students

There is very little detail in the consultation about higher ability groups. Previous comments have suggested that only one set of tests will be used in KS2, with no extension (level 6) papers. This has now been confirmed. The only mention in the DfE releases is that schools will be required to publish “the percentage of pupils who achieve a high score in all areas at the end of key stage 2”. “High score” has not yet been defined.

Lower Ability Students

It appears that there will be no indication in Teacher Assessment of how close students were to meeting the required standard. The scaled score will provide some indication of these.

Children working significantly below average levels (i.e. with specific SEN) will continue to be assessed using P-levels. When draft performance descriptors were published, it appeared that there was a notable gap between the top of the P-scales and the lowest possible category of grade descriptor. These have since been withdrawn and will be replaced in the autumn in some form.

Changes to Accountability

From 2016, floor standards will be raised dramatically. In 2015, schools are expected to have 65% of children achieving Level 4 or above. From 2016 this will rise to 85% being required to meet the new higher standard (expected to equate to current Level 4b)

This is a massive leap. However, it is potentially softened by the second standard about progression. Unfortunately, in typical DfE style, the progression measure of “sufficient progress” will be based on the average progression – another case of all schools needing to be better than average? Perhaps. The detail is too vague to be sure at the moment, but we do know that the department will decide what constitutes “sufficient progress” after the KS2 tests have been taken and marked.

For further commentary & opinion, see my previous blog on the changes.

7 thoughts on “Summary of Primary Assessment changes

  1. teachingbattleground 29 March 2014 at 10:06 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. dtjprime 5 April 2014 at 3:49 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on dtjprime and commented:
    This is a good snapshot of the changes about to take place in primary assessments.

  3. Beth Budden 11 April 2014 at 10:58 am Reply

    Hi there – I assume when it says ‘a single descriptor will be published’ for science that means pupils will be assessed as having met the year group programmes of study or not? For example, Joe Bloggs completed the year 3 science programme, but Frank didn’t? This is then a complete mastery curriculum. Interesting…

    • Michael Tidd 11 April 2014 at 11:10 am Reply

      Something like that, although only for the whole key stage, not each year group. So “Joe Bloggs has met the required standard for the Key Stage 2 Programme of Study” is a more likely summary.

      • Beth Budden 11 April 2014 at 12:31 pm Reply

        Yes, that makes sense because schools may not teach the PoS as set out in the year groups, plus the working scientifically skills part is now in phase group blocks.
        I think a science test may well creep back in somewhere though!

  4. […] [Since writing this blog, further details about assessment have been released, which you can read at: Summary of Primary Assessment changes] […]

  5. […] As teachers from the NUT were on strike again, the department finally got around to telling us what assessment would look like at the end of KS1 and KS2 – although as ever it raised more questions than answers, some of […]

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