Ofsted release new details of inspections after the removal of NC levels

Ofsted have released details in its Note for inspectors: use of assessment information during inspections in 2014/15 of how inspections will take account of the removal of National Curriculum levels. The note details the following:

From 1 September 2014, all maintained schools will be required by law to teach the relevant national curriculum programmes of study by the end of the key stage. Schools can teach the elements in the programmes of study in any order, even where they are written for separate year groups. Academies and free schools do not have to teach the national curriculum.

National curriculum levels will be removed from September 2014. In 2014/15, Year 2 and Year 6 pupils will not be taught the new curriculum. The 2015 Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 assessments and tests will be on the old national curriculum and will be the last to be reported on against levels.

In 2014/15, most schools, academies and free schools will have historic performance data expressed in national curriculum levels, except for those pupils in Year 1. Inspectors may find that schools are tracking attainment and progress using a mixture of measures for some, or all, year groups and subjects.

As now, inspectors will use a range of evidence to make judgements, including by looking at test results, pupils’ work and pupils’ own perceptions of their learning. Inspectors will not expect to see a particular assessment system in place and will recognise that schools are still working towards full implementation of their preferred approach.[1]

However, inspectors will:

  • spend more time looking at the range of pupils’ work to consider what progress they are making in different areas of the curriculum
  • talk to leaders about schools’ use of formative and summative assessment and how this improves teaching and raises achievement
  • evaluate how well pupils are doing against relevant age-related expectations as set out by the school and the national curriculum (where this applies)[2]
  • consider how schools use assessment information to identify pupils who are falling behind in their learning or who need additional support to reach their full potential, including the most able
  • evaluate the way schools report to parents and carers on pupils’ progress and attainment and assess whether reports help parents to understand how their children are doing in relation to the standards expected.


[1] Further advice and guidance to support schools in selecting an appropriate system may be found by following the links below:

Assessment principles: school curriculum, DfE, April 2014

Schools win funds to develop and share new ways of assessing pupils

National curriculum and assessment: information for schools, DfE, March 2014

Assessment Commission Report, NAHT, February 2014,

Case study One - Assessment without levels

Case study Two - Assessment without levels

[2] Schools are likely to use a combination of relevant national curriculum expectations and performance descriptors where they apply (see below), and expectations set by the school for other (continued in the footnote below) subjects and age groups through the chosen assessment system. For the end of each key stage, the government will set the expected standards in reading, writing, mathematics and science. In between, it is for schools to determine where pupils must be in relation to that standard. For Key Stage 1, the DfE will provide performance descriptors for expected national standards in mathematics, reading and writing. It will provide a single descriptor of the expected standard for science. For Key Stage 2, the DfE will provide performance descriptors for expected standards in writing. For science, reading and mathematics, it will provide a single descriptor of the expected standard. The DfE will publish the draft performance descriptors in autumn 2014. At both key stages, tests will be reported against scaled scores rather than levels.

Key Stage 4 programmes of study for English and mathematics will be published in August 2014 for teaching from September 2015. Science will be published for teaching from September 2016.

Read the report in full 

Read Michael Wilshaw's letter to schools


assessment frameworks, key stage 1, key stage 2, national tests, new curriculum

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