Decoding your child’s school report
It will be the end of term before we know it and that means one thing – school report time. But what exactly do those National Curriculum numbers and letters mean? Many parents can be left downright confused, as they can be tricky to decipher. Here Sian Goodspeed from Flying Start TuitionFlying Start Tuition explains what you need to know to understand what the report really means and a quick guide to National Curriculum Levels.
What is the National Curriculum?
The National Curriculum exists to standardise education across England, establishing what children should be taught alongside a scale of the academic level at which they should be working as they progress through their school years. It organises educational content into blocks of school years called Key Stages. Each of these stages has a target achievement level, which children should be meeting across the core subjects. Your child’s school report will inform you of the progress your child has made towards meeting these attainment targets so that you are aware if your child is falling behind in a particular subject, is progressing satisfactorily or is working at an above average level. They are therefore a key tool in helping you to support your child’s learning.
The Key Stages and Assessment
The key stages are grouped as follows:
Years 1 and 2 of primary school – Key Stage 1
Years 3 to 6 of primary school – Key Stage 2
Years 7 to 9 of secondary school – Key Stage 3
Years 10 to 11 of secondary school – Key Stage 4
Nursery and reception years use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This concentrates on developing the core areas of literacy, mathematics, expressive arts and design and an understanding of the world, primarily through play-based activities. At the end of the academic year in which children turn five their teacher will produce an EYFS profile which is based upon regular observations, rather than formal assessment. This profile is passed on to Year 1 teachers as an indication of each child’s starting level when they enter Key Stage 1.
Children’s learning continues to be monitored throughout the Key Stages, with assessments taking place at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. You should expect to hear your child’s results at the close of the EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. However, most schools will provide parents with school reports at the end of each academic year as part of ongoing progress monitoring.
Assessment at the end of Key Stage 1 is a combination of informal testing throughout the school year and teacher assessments. Children sit SATs (Standard Attainment Tests) which examine their reading, writing and mathematical ability. Teacher assessments also cover these areas, as well as measuring speaking, listening and scientific ability. Most schools aim to make Key Stage 1 assessment as low-key as possible to avoid causing unnecessary stress.
At the end of Key Stage 2, testing is more formally conducted. Children sit English and mathematics SATs, which cover writing (grammar, punctuation and spelling), reading and mathematical ability. Teacher assessment is also used throughout the year to measure speaking and listening skills as well as grammar, punctuation and spelling ability in order to build a comprehensive picture of a child’s progress.
National Curriculum Levels
Children’s results are communicated to parents in their school report through a system of levels and sub-levels. The National Curriculum expects children to be working at specific levels at each Key Stage. Sub-levels indicate how securely a child is working within a particular level. Levels are represented by numbers and sub-levels by the letters a, b and c. An ‘a’ represents consistent work of a high standard within a certain level and suggests a readiness to progress to the next level. A ‘b’ shows steady performance at a particular level. A ‘c’ indicates that progress is just beginning to be made through a level. The expected level for each year group is set out below:
Year 1: 1b
Year 2: 2b
Year 3: 2a to 3c
Year 4: 3b
Year 5: 3a to 4c
Year 6: 4b
The focus with these levels is on progress. The ideal rate of progress set by the Department of Education is two full levels per Key Stage. Naturally, this rate will vary. For instance, progress in Key Stage 2 will be slower than at Key Stage 1 because educational content becomes more complex.
Supporting Your Child’s Progress
All manner of things can affect your child’s progress and he or she may, in certain years, advance more quickly or more slowly than expected. However, there are steps you can take to support your child’s learning when and where you feel it is needed and communicating with your child’s school is important.
Children working at a high level respond to further challenge, which can encourage them to continue to strive to achieve their best. Encouraging independent learning at home, for example by supporting your child in completing a project on a topic of their choice, can be an excellent way to prepare your child for more advanced study at later Key Stages whilst encouraging an enjoyment of learning. Your child’s teacher will be open to discussion on how best to stretch him or her academically both inside and outside the classroom.
Likewise, discussion with a teacher is useful if you feel your child is falling behind. He or she should be able to make tailored suggestions as to how best to help your child tackle any issues which are hindering their progress.
Comparing your child’s results to his or her friend’s at another school is unlikely to be constructive. Whilst teacher assessments are moderated to help ensure consistency between schools, assessments remain a somewhat subjective matter. It will always be more useful to compare your child’s results this year to those he or she achieved last year than to compare the current results of children in different educational situations.
Flying Start Tuition have an Open Afternoon on Sunday 22nd June, 1pm – 4pm. Drop in any time to find out more about us and how we can help your child succeed at school and beyond. We’re easy to find by road or rail – come and meet us at 6 Broadway Court, The Broadway, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1EG.