Primary schools: Assessing without levels – what we know so far!

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I recently attended a conference and the speaker introduced the concept of liminal spaces.  Richard Rohr described a liminal space as when ‘you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.’  This perfectly describes my state of mind with assessment!  It is a strange reality to be in a place where you refer to National Curriculum levels as your comfort zone!!!

The Learning Exchange, working closely with the Early Years Team, have been looking into the information ‘out there’ about assessing without levels  and unpicking what we factually know and what is supposition or guesswork.  It soon became clear that ‘holding steady’ and not jumping into buying a new assessment system or setting to and creating something from scratch was a key message we wanted to share with schools.

The attached presentation, which was shared with Headteachers at briefings in May, provides a concise and easy to digest summary of the detail from the ‘Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools’ document published by the DfE in March 2014.  It is structured to give you easy access to the facts and also the timescales for when further information and guidance will be published by the DfE.

It won’t answer all your questions mainly because there is a lot that is still unclear and needs answering from the DfE.  We are in contact with representatives from the DfE and able to pose some of your questions to them directly.  We would be really keen to hear from you any questions you have about managing assessing without levels in your school.  We will be running a FAQ section on this site where we will share new information and build up a clearer picture of the future for assessment.

Download the presentation as a pdf here:


Lorraine Woollven and Penny Boardman

If you have any questions for Lorraine and Penny on assessing without levels please let them know using this form – they will answer as many as they can in a follow up post. Alternatively, for this or any other schools improvement or professional development needs please call us on 01934 427508

UPDATE: make sure to look at the follow up FAQ post with input from the DfE: Primary schools: Assessing without levels – frequently asked questions with DfE responses 

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