Life Without Levels


A Life without Levels & ‘A Mastery Curriculum’ at Abbeyfield School

At Abbeyfield we have taken the decision to move away from the old national curriculum levels that have previously been used to assess students’ progress throughout key stage three. Although this is a big decision we are excited about the opportunity this has presented to develop a bespoke assessment system that really tells about what our students can do across a broad and exciting curriculum.

This curriculum has been launched with our new year seven and can be viewed by clicking the link below. The intention with the new curriculum was to map students learning from Year 7-9 to ensure students are stretched and challenged and ready to start a package of GCSE courses at the end of year 9. The curriculum has a much stronger focus on developing skills in learners as well as ensuring mastery of key knowledge in all subjects.

To assess students accurately against key skills and knowledge we have introduced the language of:

• Developing
• Secure
• Mastery
• Excel

This language is key to creating a system that supports the assessment of work and conversations between teacher and pupil about a student’s competency with relation to the identified key skills and knowledge for a particular unit within a subject.

The intention is not to simply create a tracking system but to facilitate a language that can be used in the classroom with students to create a challenging environment in which students are clear about what they can do and their competencies with core knowledge and skills.

This system is underpinned by the use of statements (commonly referred to as ‘I can’ language) which subject areas have created that will support the assessment process but also inform students of what being secure with a skill looks like and what you need to be able to do in order to master a skill or key topic.

By tracking skills and knowledge we will be able to give a clear and detailed picture of what students can do and what they understand in each subject area rather than focus on giving a broad and often vague level that says very little about what a student is capable of.

Assistant Head Teaching & Learning Helen Carpenter says “The new system of assessing students can only lead to a raise in standards as they move towards mastery and clearly show the progress they have made”

The system and approach is in its infancy but we are very happy to talk about the process of moving away from levels and the rationale behind our decisions. If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Ralph Plummer Assistant Head Student Progress
Nic Hathway Associate Senior Leader Assessment & Advice

Please feel free to look at sample materials from some of our subject areas including annotated exemplar material from Science, assessment grids from Art and ‘I can’ statements used in English. Additionally a copy of the mapped curriculum for new Year 7 students can be accessed from the link below. A more detailed description of how the system has been developed is also available on the final link.