Primary assessment announcement: what does it mean?

Thank you to Deputy Headteacher Michael Tidd for this article. 

As promised, this week Justine Greening announced some changes to Primary Assessment, after the department reflected on the process earlier this year. The changes fall in three main parts: the coasting standard; assessment for lower-attaining pupils; and plans for reform of assessment more generally. Hopefully this will mean that in the next couple of years, schools can be fairly confident of what’s coming up. Consultations will begin in the new academic year about what changes should be made in the longer term.

Assessment in 2017 and 2018… and beyond

The general message here is that there will be relatively little change over the next two years. The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will continue to be used, as will the current style of KS1 and KS2 tests and Teacher Assessment. The only exception is that the Key Stage 1 Grammar and Spelling test will not be compulsory.

This will mean no new times tables test in Year 6, no phonics check in Year 3, and no new Year 7 resit tests at least for the next couple of years.

It also means that schools will continue to use the “interim” assessment frameworks for Teacher Assessment for the next two years. The department has clearly recognised the challenges presented this year, and has said that additional guidance will be available for 2017, as well as statutory moderation training for Local Authority moderators.

This broad consistency will be welcomed by many in the interim, but it is clear that the department still feels there are areas that could still be improved. We can apparently expect a consultation in the spring term about any alterations to be made in the longer term.

The Rochford Review

The final report of this review into assessment for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities has also been published. The review calls for the continuation of the existing ‘pre-Key Stage’ standards, along with the addition of a further two categories to replace some stages of the old P-levels structure. This will mean that there are now 5 bands of potential attainment in addition to the 3 main options:

  • Entry to the Expected Standard
  • Emerging to the Expected Standard
  • Foundations for the Expected Standard
  • Early Development for the Expected Standard
  • Growing Development of the Expected Standard
  • Working Towards the Expected Standard
  • Working at the Expected Standard
  • Working at Greater Depth Within the Expected Standard

For those children who are not yet accessing specific subject learning, the report proposes an alternative over-arching framework of assessment on 7 aspects such as responsiveness, discovery and persistence.

Floor and Coasting Standards

Firstly, a very welcome announcement for many schools that “no decisions on intervention will be made on the basis of the 2016 data alone”. Where schools are classed as below the floor standard, or as coasting, for this year support will be provided by local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners, rather than facing automatic change of any sort.

The Floor Standards were set out earlier this term, but are worth restating. There are two parts to the standard, and schools must meet one or other to remain “above the floor”:

Attainment Progress
At least 65% of pupils achieved the expected standard in all 3 subjects combined (Reading, Writing & Maths) Progress measures are above all three floor measures:


Reading:  -5

Writing:   -7

Maths:     -5

For the Coasting Standard, three years of data are used. Schools will likely already know if they fell below the required standard in 2014 and 2015 (based on 85% attainment and proportions making 2 levels of progress). The third year is based on the 2016 result. Again, if schools were below the required levels in 2014 and 2015, then they must meet one or other of the new coasting standard measures to avoid being labelled as a coasting school:

Attainment Progress
At least 85% of pupils achieved the expected standard in all 3 subjects combined (Reading, Writing & Maths) Progress measures are above all three floor measures:


Reading:  -2.5

Writing:   -3.5

Maths:     -2.5

The remaining unknowns

There are still some issues which have yet to be resolved. Not least of these is the longer-term picture, but there are also some questions about the immediate future.

Firstly, for the current cycle of Teacher Assessment, we still don’t know when moderation visits will take place. The proposals for 2016 had originally been for moderation to take place after schools had submitted their final Teacher Assessment judgements. Might this happen this year as part of the new guidance provided to local authorities?

Discussions with the NAHT and others suggest that the STA has looked carefully at the order of test questions in the coming year’s Reading tests to address some of the concerns raised this year. However, the broader difficulty of the tests remains to be seen.

In short, this week’s announcements suggest that there will be limited change in the near future, and a consultation proposed before any major changes arise. Let’s make the most of both opportunities.

What did you make of the announcement? Tweet us @risingstarsedu, or Michael Tidd on @MichaelT1979.

You can read Justine Greening's announcement in full here.


grammar, key stage 1, key stage 2, maths

Added to your basket: