Assessment Without Levels

Assessment Without Levels Framework

Key Principles and Considerations
  1. This is an assessment framework designed to aid well-rounded teacher assessment and promote positive cultural and behavioural change in line with the principles underpinning the recent national curriculum revision and the move towards Assessment without Levels.  The assessment framework and supporting resources are not a curriculum resource or checklist that should directly structure planning and teaching sequences, but an account of the fundamental criteria and constructs that should be assessed on a yearly basis and how those assessments should be made and recorded.  Teachers will retain local autonomy over the direction they take to ensure that children meet the non-negotiable milestones devised by the REAch2 AWL Expert Panel, including representative subject-specialists and leaders from a range of REAch2 schools. Relentless preparation for summative assessment, teaching to the test, will not dominate curriculum planning and learning in REAch2 schools.

  2. The framework will incentivise an engagement with breadth & depth of study and application of skills, knowledge & understanding across a range of contexts. It will place greater value on achievement through understanding of concepts and constructs that can be articulated convincingly and thoroughly rather than on the accrual of new S,K & U, at undue pace, from the traditional, narrower, ‘next step’ of the sequenced curriculum.

    Children can be recognised as working within expectations above their chronological age, however there will be limited value attached to this in terms of data analysis and reporting. Non-negotiable milestones within a year group are sufficiently challenging and offer enough scope and freedom for exploration for all children to access valuable learning that expands their thinking. The non-negotiable milestones enable working practice that does not routinely seek to move children on towards working above their chronological age. This key principle will avoid incentivising teachers to push children to accelerate progress in curriculum content before breadth and application has thoroughly secured key concepts. The framework supports recognising that pupils are working above the milestones, but not by how much, enabling them to be assessed against ‘next year’s non-negotiable milestones’, in due time, when these criteria become age-appropriate.

  3. The framework will recognise and support the view that progress over time does not always occur in a linear way within an academic year, and expects teachers to make assessments of a child’s capacity to meet expectations within the context of their individual rate of progress through the curriculum – children’s capacity and likelihood of attaining the milestones by the end of the year is assessed based on what they have focused on, investigated – and demonstrated appropriate S,K &U within – so far.

  4. It will place the children at the centre of assessment language & routines and maintain the profile of learning as its core priority rather than primarily facilitating data accountability exercises. The assessment framework will promote deep learning conversations and clear, purposeful questioning between children and adults in order to elicit and evidence convincing levels of S, K & U and inform valid, reliable assessments of underlying concepts and constructs.

  5. It will promote relationships and dialogue with parents based on learning at source, without an over-reliance on codes and labels.

  6. Trust wide exemplification materials, in the forms of models, exemplars and portfolios of pupils’ learning will be produced to support effective teacher assessment, consistency of application and wide-ranging consensus on criteria definitions. Routine, high-quality, inclusive moderation at all levels will be essential.

  7. Over time the trust will also develop a parallel learning behaviour continuum to be used alongside the non-negotiable milestones developed by the Expert Panel, distilling the key learning behaviours evident in school’s locally agreed behaviour policies and curricula into non-negotiable milestones that will be assessed in the same way as the core subjects. Children will need to be assessed as meeting learning behaviour expectations alongside those in the core subjects.

  8. Teachers and schools will need to continue to work together in a co-ordinated and systematic way to devise and collate questions and approaches to eliciting convincing evidence in all contexts.

Teacher Assessment Workflow

I.  Individual criteria-based assessments

Teachers will assess children’s likelihood of attainment of each of the non-negotiable criteria, investigated and demonstrated so far, making one of the following judgements:

  • Working towards – Children are accessing the curriculum below the expectations of their chronological age. They do not currently have the skills required to access, achieve or demonstrate significant engagement with this assessment criteria.

  • Aspiring to Meet – Children are accessing the expectations of their chronological year group, however are deemed not to be On-Track to meet expectations fully by the end of the year without significant additional support. Children have demonstrated some capability of engaging with it but may need specific intervention and/or additional quality-first teaching in order to be confidently assessed as On-Track.

  • On-Track to Meet – Children are On-Track to comprehensively attain S, K &U of this assessment criteria by the end of the year.

  • Met – Children are currently demonstrating comprehensive S, K &U across a broad range of contexts and genres.

For children with specific significant diagnosed SEN, teachers will retain the ability to dis-apply inappropriate criteria

II. Termly summative assessments

At the key data collection points during the year – at the end of each half term – teachers will assess children’s attainment in subjects using a best fit model based on the assessment criteria linked to the topics investigated so far, and using similar terminology, with some clarification:

  • Working towards – children are accessing the curriculum below the expectations of their chronological age. These judgements will include further qualifying statements related to the year group expectations being accessed, to indicate which expectations they are currently Aspiring to Meet or On-Track to Meet. E.g. children are Working Towards Y5 expectations in maths, On-Track to meet Y4 expectations]

  • Aspiring to Meet

  • On-Track to Meet

  • Met

III.  End of year assessments

At the end of the year children are assessed as:

  • Working towards

  • Aspiring to Meet

  • Met – There is no On-Track assessment


At every data collection point, including the overall summative assessment at the end of the year, teachers will retain the ability to assess where a child is against the non-negotiable milestones using one of the available terms.  An overall assessment will not be generated by an algorithm based on a points or weighting assigned to any individual assessment criteria.


3  Analysis and Reporting

  1. Cohort attainment and progress measures over time will be based on comparative proportions of children Working Towards, Aspiring to Meet, On-Track to Meet or having Met the non-negotiable milestones.

  2. As there will be no scoring system assigned to individual criteria or attainment, particularly related to children working above the expectations of their chronological age, there will be no measurement replicating school’s current use of APS.

  3. How do we measure progress on a child by child basis?
    Expected or better progress’ is deemed as a child meeting the milestones year-on-year (being On-Track to On-Track in case of a mid-point to a mid-point comparison), or making progress towards meeting them for those not previously working within their year groups milestones (narrowing the gap between prior/current attainment and expected attainment).  Children are not expected to progress from meeting to any “exceeding” assessment, as the non-negotiable milestones and supporting breadth of study, application and behavioural expectations have been set with an appropriate level of challenge for all children.

  4. How do we measure progress on a cohort by cohort basis?
    Measurements are based on the increases or decreases to proportions Meeting or being On-Track to meet milestones from data collection point to data collection point.  This data can be analysed and reported by school, key stage, phase, year group, key group and any related configuration of pupils.

  5. Similar analysis and reporting will also be available for the non-negotiable assessment criteria, enabling increased awareness of strengths and weaknesses in understanding of concepts and constructs with a cohort or school.

  6. There is no useful method with which to compare the existing data profile of the school (levels-based) with the future data profile (AWL-based) due to discrepancies between expectations and assessment methodologies. Looking for direct correlations between both systems will not be a useful exercise.

  7. Specific focused reports for key audiences and purposes will be available on O-Track.  To improve clarity of purpose, and to communicate key information effectively and consistently, the number of available core reports and the workflow with which data will be accessed and pulled will be simplified and standardised.

Rationale for the AWL: non-negotiable milestones

In order for this new assessment criteria to work it requires a change of mind-set at all levels regarding assessment.  Schools have the freedom to make professional judgements on how children learning the knowledge, skills and concepts within the National Curriculum.  With this comes a big responsibility to ensure that at all levels it is being taught in a way that develops the whole child.

The non-negotiable milestones are not a replacement for levels.  They are not a basis for planning or measuring steps in progress.  The non-negotiable milestones are a summative expectation of what skills, knowledge and concepts the child should have by the end of the year.  It is by no means the range, breadth or depth of what a child should be learning.

The changes in curriculum require that children are able to independently access the skills taught in year groups across a wide range of contexts.  They are revisiting and deepening their understanding of what they have learnt, improving their ability to apply learning in as many different ways as possible.

Because teachers cannot push through a set of levels, they are free to help children master the full breadth of the curriculum for their year group, without fear of being penalised for a perceived lack of progress.  The real progress will come through the freedom for children to learn in a range of contexts and ways.  The progress will be evident and measurable in books and through the children themselves, not through a set of numbers.

This is not to say that challenge and high expectations have slipped.  Once a child has mastered aspects of their year group’s curriculum and this is clearly evidenced, the teacher must push the child on to their next stage of learning.  This will not be scored through a data package but will be the responsibility of the school to ensure that children are meeting their full potential, through clear and thorough checking systems.

Contact Us

Silkmore Primary Academy
Exeter Street
ST17 4EG


Phone: 01785 333930


REAch2 Academy Trust

Henhurst Ridge Primary Academy

Henhurst Ridge



DE13 9SZ


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