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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

National Curriculum teacher assessments and key stage tests

The National Curriculum teacher assessments and/or tests are designed to give you and your child's school information about how well your child is doing.

Teacher assessments

So teachers know which children may need extra help, at the end of each key stage they will formally assess your child's performance to measure their progress. For example, in June children in Year 1 will take a phonics check. This takes just a few minutes to complete.

Phonics is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. Through phonics children learn how to recognise the sounds of each letter, and the sounds different combinations of letters make. For example, “sh” or “oo”, and blending sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Of course, your child's teacher will be informally assessing their learning at other times to help them plan future teaching. They may, for example, listen to your child read or look at their maths work. Some schools will also use optional tests to assess children's progress.

National Curriculum levels

During Key Stages 1-3, progress in most National Curriculum subjects is assessed against eight levels. At the end of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 the school will send you a report telling you what level your child is working at.

At Key Stage 1 the level will be based on the teacher's assessment, taking into account your child’s performance in several tasks and tests.

At Key Stage 2 the level will reflect the teacher’s assessment and your child’s national test results.

At Key Stage 3 the level will be based on the teacher's assessment.

To find out more about National Curriculum levels, see ‘Understanding the National Curriculum’

'End of key stage' tests

Your child will take national tests at the end of Key Stage 2. The tests are intended to show if your child is working at, above or below the target level for their age.

This helps the school to make plans for their future learning. It also allows schools to see whether they are teaching effectively by comparing their pupils' performance to national results.

Key Stage 1 teacher assessments, tasks and tests

Teacher assessment for seven year olds covers:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking and listening
  • maths
  • science

These assessments take account of how your child performed in Key Stage 1 tasks and tests for seven year olds. The tasks and tests cover:

  • reading
  • writing (including handwriting and spelling)
  • maths

The tasks and tests can be taken at a time the school chooses. They last for less than three hours altogether. The results are not reported separately but are used to help the teacher assess your child's work. By the age of seven, most children are expected to achieve level 2.

The teacher assessment is moderated by your local authority. This is to make sure teachers make consistent assessments of children's work.

Key Stage 2 tests and teacher assessments

Key Stage 2 tests for 11 year olds cover:

  • English - reading, writing (including handwriting) and spelling
  • maths - including mental arithmetic
  • science

These tests are taken on set days in mid-May and are designed to test pupils' knowledge and understanding. Depending on which tests children sit, the tests last between four and seven and a half hours. The teacher assessment covers:

  • English
  • maths
  • science

By the age of 11, most children are expected to achieve level 4.

Key Stage 3 teacher assessments

The Key Stage 3 teacher assessment for 14 year olds covers:

  • English
  • maths
  • science
  • history
  • geography
  • modern foreign languages
  • design and technology
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • art and design
  • music
  • physical education
  • citizenship
  • religious education

By the age of 14, most children are expected to achieve level 5.

Your child's school report

The results of the tests and the teacher assessment may be different, and it’s important to look at both to get an all-round view of your child’s progress. For example, a teacher may feel your child is doing better in a subject as a whole than in the parts of the subject covered by a test.

At the end of each key stage, you will get a report from the school telling you:

  • the results of your child's tests (for Key Stage 2 only)
  • the teacher assessment levels your child has achieved
  • the results for all the children in your child's age group in the school
  • the national results for the previous year

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