Methodology

Key stage 1 and phonics screening check attainment

Published

Introduction

This document provides a comprehensive guide to the key stage 1 and phonics screening check statistics published at national, regional, local authority and local authority district level by the Department for Education. 

It provides information on the data sources, their coverage and quality and explains the methodology used in producing the data including how it is validated. 

The key areas covered in this guide are:

  • About the output
  • Accuracy and reliability 
  • Comparability

About the output

National, regional, local authority (LA), local authority district (LAD) and constituency information on attainment of primary school pupils in England is published in the Phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments statistical publication.

Primary school education is split into key stages as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Age of child related to year group and key stage

Key stageEYFS112222
Year groupR123456
Age of child at end of year567891011

At the end of each key stage, pupils’ attainment is measured by statutory assessments against the standards set out in the national curriculum.

In addition to assessments at the end of each key stage, pupils in year 1 also take a phonics screening check. Any year 2 pupils who did not meet the standard or did not take the phonics check in year 1, (re)- take the check in year 2.

See annex A for more information on the national curriculum and statutory assessments in phonics and key stage 1.

Data sources

Phonics 

State-funded schools (including academies and free schools) are required to report pupil level phonics screening check results to their LA. The LA must then submit these results to the Department for Education (referred to from here onwards as ‘the department’) via COLLECT (Collections On-Line for Learning, Education, Children and Teachers) - a system used by the department to collect data from schools, LAs and other organisations. 

Independent schools cannot submit phonics screening check results. 

Key stage 1 

State-funded schools are required to report KS1 teacher assessments to their LA; and the LA must then pass these results to the department via COLLECT. 

Independent schools and non-maintained special schools can report KS1 teacher assessments if they wish to do so. If they choose to do so, they must submit the data via their LA and meet the same conditions (for example, to be subject to LA moderation) as state-funded schools.

Other data 

The assessment data is combined with information on pupil characteristics taken from the school census. 

Information on school type and phase of education are taken from Get Information About Schools (GIAS). Definitions are given in annex B.

How the output is created 

Data on pupil attainment is collected from schools via a number of separate data collections. This information is linked with information on pupil characteristics, school characteristics and information on pupil prior attainment to produce the unamended (provisional) data in the national pupil database (NPD). A number of derived variables (see annex C) are added during this process. This data is then used to produce the provisional statistical publication. 

Following publication of the provisional statistical publication, additional data such as that submitted after the initial deadlines or released following the completion of maladministration investigations.

The phonics and KS1 data, is then considered final. The final data is used to update the time series in the following year’s statistical publication.

Relevance

This section describes the degree to which the statistics meet current and potential needs of the users.

A full list of key users and uses is available in annex G.

A key strength of the data is that it is derived from an administrative data collection. This means that it can supply accurate data down to small geographical areas (school level). In addition, the data is merged with other administrative data held by the department (the school census) to provide detailed information on sub-groups of the school population. Pupil level data from different key stages can also be merged so that we can produce precise measures of pupil progress between one key stage and another. 

One of the main limitations is that the data only covers statutory assessments. In addition, the statutory assessments only cover a limited range of subjects and do not provide any information about attainment in other subjects such as music, history and modern foreign languages. Since the assessments are not statutory in independent schools, coverage of independent schools is limited to those what choose to participate in the assessments.

Timeliness

Timeliness refers to the lapse of time between the period to which the data refer and the publication of the estimates.

The phonics screening check takes place in the third week of June. 

Key stage 1 teacher assessments should be finalised by schools by the end of June and submitted to the department by late July.

Provisional phonics and key stage 1 data, including breakdowns by characteristics are published in late September: around 8 weeks after the deadline for submission of the data. In 2022, this data was published in early October.

During this period, the data are quality assured, matched with other data and processed to produce the statistical publication outputs.

Punctuality 

Punctuality refers to the time lag between the actual and planned dates of publication.

The proposed month of publication is announced on gov.uk at least twelve months in advance and precise dates are announced in the same place six months prior to publication. In the unlikely event of a change to the pre-announced release schedule, the change and the reasons for it would be announced. 

Accuracy and reliability

Accuracy describes the closeness between an estimated result and the (unknown) true value.

Data coverage

Phonics 

The target population for the phonics data collection is all year 1 pupils in state-funded schools and all year 2 pupils in state-funded schools who had not passed the phonics screening check in year 1 (including those who did not take it in year 1). The data may not be representative of all 6 year old pupils in England since those in independent schools and those who are home-schooled will be excluded. 

LAs can submit further data (either additional data or amendments to that already submitted) after the initial deadline of the collection until mid-September. The collection is then closed and no further changes can be made. 

There is very little change between the provisional and final datasets and the statistical release is produced based on the provisional data. 

Any pupils who do not have a valid phonics outcome are excluded from the calculations and do not appear in the number of eligible pupils or in the outcome percentages. Valid results in the phonics screening check are:

Pupils with 'D' are included as we want to measure the percentage of all 6 year olds meeting the standard rather than of only those who took the check. 

Steps are taken to minimise the number of pupils who are absent (for example those absent during test week can take the check the following week). Those who are absent are also included in calculations to encourage schools to ensure that all eligible pupils take the check where possible. 

Pupils whose phonics screening check outcome was subject to maladministration are also included to ensure complete coverage of the cohort.

In addition to figures on the percentage of the cohort who pass the phonics screening check in year 1, we also publish the percentage of pupils who pass by the end of year 2. We do not publish figures for the percentage of those who take it in year 2 who pass. See annex D for a precise definition of the year 2 cohort.

Key stage 1 

The target population for the key stage 1 data collection is all pupils who are at the end of key stage 1. However, key stage 1 assessments are only mandatory for state-funded schools. A relatively small number of independent schools participate voluntary in the assessments. Therefore, the data should not be considered representative of all key stage 1 schools but can be considered representative of state-funded schools. 

LAs can submit further data (either additional data or amendments to that already submitted) after the initial closure of the collection until the end of October. The collection is then closed and no further changes can be made. 

There is very little change between the provisional and final datasets and the statistical release is produced based on the provisional data. 

Any pupils who do not have a valid KS1 outcome for a subject are excluded from the calculations for that subject and do not appear in the number of eligible pupils or in the outcome percentages. For reading, writing and mathematics, the valid outcomes are:

  • working at greater depth within the expected standard (GDS) 
  • working at the expected standard (EXS)
  • working towards the expected standard (WTS)
  • pre-key stage standard 1 (PK1) 
  • pre-key stage standard 2 (PK2) 
  • pre-key stage standard 3 (PK3) 
  • pre-key stage standard 4 (PK4) 
  • engagement model (EM) 
  • absent (A) 
  • maladministration (Q)

For science, the valid outcomes are:

  • working at the expected standard (EXS) 
  • has not met the expected standard (HNM) 
  • absent (A) 
  • maladministration (Q)

As with phonics, we include pupils with 'A', 'D' or 'Q' to ensure complete coverage of the cohort. 

Measurement error

Measurement error is the difference between the actual value of a quantity and the value obtained by a measurement. Repeating the measurement will reduce the random error caused by the accuracy of the measuring instrument but not any systemic error caused by incorrect calibration of the measuring instrument. 

The following steps are taken to minimise measurement error in the assessments.

Phonics 

Clear guidance is provided to schools to ensure that the phonics screening check is administered consistently in all schools. Since 2014, the pass mark has not been made available to schools until after the completion of the check (in previous years, it was sent out with the test materials). This was to ensure that teachers could not be influenced by the pass mark when judging whether pupils had read each word correctly. 

In addition, LAs carry out monitoring visits to at least 10% schools in their area, before, during and after the check period to ensure that they are following the security arrangements and administering the phonics screening check in accordance with the published guidance. They will inform STA of any irregularities in schools’ assessment arrangements. 

STA will investigate any matter brought to its attention relating to the accuracy or correctness of any child’s check results. This can lead to changes to, or annulment of, results for a whole cohort, groups of children or individual children. 

The phonics collection remains open for six weeks after the initial collection deadline so that revised data can be submitted to correct any errors identified by schools or LAs after submission.

Key stage 1 

Clear guidance is provided to schools to explain how they should carry out assessments at the end of key stage 1. School must administer key stage 1 tests to the children during May. The tests are marked internally by teachers and the outcomes of the tests are used, alongside other evidence, to inform their teacher assessments. 

Teacher assessment frameworks at the end of key stage 1 are used to report teacher assessments. 

To ensure that standards are consistent between schools, LAs moderate a sample of key stage 1 teacher assessments to ensure that they are appropriate and consistent with national standards. Each LA must carry out a moderation visit to at least a quarter of their schools each year and ensure that all schools are moderated at least once in a four-year cycle. 

Schools where assessment is felt to be at particular risk of inaccuracy will be moderated more frequently. If the moderator judges that a school’s assessments are not consistent with national standards, the assessments must be reconsidered by the teachers concerned. If the moderator’s judgements continue to differ from the schools, the LA will substitute their assessments for those of the school. They will inform STA of any irregularities in schools’ assessment arrangements. STA will investigate any matter brought to its attention relating to the accuracy or correctness of any child’s check results. This can lead to changes to, or annulment of, results for a whole cohort, groups of children or individual children. The key stage 1 collection remains open for three months after the initial collection deadline so that revised data can be submitted to correct any errors identified by schools or LAs after submission.

Validation and quality assurance of source data

Once schools have finalised their phonics marks and key stage 1 teacher assessments, they must enter them into their management information system (MIS) which will already contain details of all pupils in each year group. The MIS will include a number of validation rules which check that the data entered is valid and alert the school to correct the data if not. 

Once all results have been entered, the school will instruct the MIS to generate a standard file that they will transfer securely to the LA. The LA will check the data before forwarding it to the department using COLLECT. COLLECT also contains validations rules (similar to those in school MIS) which highlight ‘errors’ and ‘queries’ to the LA. 

The LA must correct any errors before they can approve the data. ‘Queries’ highlight situations which are not usual but can occasionally occur (for example, the number of boys submitted by a school is more than 10 fewer than the expected number). Before the LA can approve the data, they must enter a note against these items to confirm that the data is correct.

Examples of validation rules 
The phonics mark must be a number between 0 and 40
Pupils with an outcome of A (absent) or D (did not take) must not have a phonics mark
Each pupil must have a unique pupil number (UPN) in the correct format
Each pupil must have only one KS1 assessment for each subject.

The LA must also ensure that phonics data and KS1 teacher assessments are collected from every expected school. 

The department operates a data collection helpline to assist LAs that are having difficulty submitting data. The helpline will also contact any LAs who they believe may be having problems submitting their data or issue a guidance note to all LAs if the same errors are repeated in many schools’ data. 

The department monitors the level of returns and the helpdesk contacts LAs with outstanding data as the submission deadline approaches. 

If the volume of data submitted is below expected levels when we are due to take the cut of provisional data, we would analyse the data to determine whether it was sufficiently representative nationally and at LA level. Decisions would then be taken whether to extend the collection for a day or two (or longer if necessary though this would probably delay publication of the statistical publication) or to suppress data for any LAs where coverage was felt to be a particular issue. 

Occasionally, more than one school may submit data for the same pupil (for example, if pupils change school during the summer term). Most duplicate cases are resolved when collected data is matched into the National Pupil Database.

Data processing

Within the national pupil database (NPD), data on pupil’s attainment from the phonics and key stage 1 data collections is linked with information on pupil’s characteristics taken from the school census. To enable this linking, records are matched, using fields such as surname, forename, date of birth, UPN, gender and postcode. This successfully matches around 60 to 75% of pupils. Additional, more complex, routines are then applied to match as many of the remaining pupils as possible, up to around 98%. 

Occasionally, a pupil will appear more than once in data, resulting, for example, from a change of school, or dual registration. Rules for deriving the main record and a combined ‘best’ attainment record for these pupils have been agreed. Where a pupil has more than one result in a subject, the highest level will be taken and all other results discounted. Occasionally a pupil will appear more than once on the census. Rules for deriving the main census record have been agreed to eliminate duplicates based on factors such as enrolment and school type.

Statistical publication production 

All data in the publication tables are produced by one person and quality checked by another. Key tables are dual run by two people independently. Any discrepancies in the data produced are discussed and more experienced staff involved as required to agree the correct figures. Additional checks are also carried out on the data produced.

Examples of additional checks:

  • Comparisons with previous figures to identify any large changes 
  • Check totals are consistent across tables 
  • Check patterns in the data are as expected 

Disclosure Control

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics requires us to take reasonable steps to ensure that our published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality. 

Figures for the Isles of Scilly and City of London are suppressed in the KS1 and phonics publication as these LAs have a single school and we do not publish school level information for key stage 1 or phonics. Regional eligible pupil figures are rounded to the nearest 10 so that it is not possible to derive figures for these LAs by summing the figures for the other LAs in the region.

Reliability

Reliability is the extent to which an estimate changes over different versions of the same data.

The key stage 1 and phonics publication is published based on provisional data as there is very little change between the provisional and final datasets (the only change being the submission of a small amount of late data). The national figures typically show no change between provisional and final data. Table 1 shows the change in some key figures at national level over the last seven years.

Table 1: Change in national phonics and key stage 1 data

  20122013201420152016201720182019202020212022
% of pupils meeting the expected standard of phonics decoding by end of year 1

Provisional

Final

58%

58%

69%

69%

74%

74%

77%

77%

81%

81%

81%

81%

82%

82%

82%

82%

No assessments

75%

-

% of pupils meeting the expected standard of phonics decoding by end of year 2

Provisional

Final

-

-

85%

85%

88%

89%

90%

90%

91%

91%

92%

92%

92%

92%

91%

91%

87%

-

% of pupils reaching the expected standard (or prior to 2016, achieving level 2 or above at the end of key stage 1) in reading

Provisional

Final

87%

87%

89%

89%

90%

90%

90%

90%

74%

74%

76%

76%

75%

75%

75%

75%

67%

-

Phonics mark distribution 

In 2022, the mean mark was 32 and the median was 36. Any change in the percentage of pupils achieving each mark is influenced by changes in the difficulty of the check, as well as the ability of the cohort. The standard is anchored only at the expected standard (32 marks), therefore the standard required to reach other marks is not exactly equivalent year-on-year. 

Comparability

Comparability is the degree to which data can be compared over time, region or other domain.

Over time

There have been a number of changes to primary school assessment over time which can make comparisons over time difficult. These changes are listed in annex E.

There have been no changes to the phonics screening check so far so 2022 results can be compared to those for earlier years.

Differences between LA and national level figures 

LA and national figures for phonics include the same pupils and so are directly comparable. 

The figures published in the national key stage 1 tables include any results from independent schools, but these are excluded from the LA figures.

 Across different types of schools

Care needs to be taken when making comparisons across school types as schools can change type over time. For example, a simple comparison of the published figures for converter academies over time may be misleading because the number of converter academies has increased over this period so the same schools are not included each time. Any changes seen could be because the schools added into this category have different attainment to those which were already there, rather than that the results for these schools have improved or declined. 

Even when we restrict our comparisons to the same group of schools over time (for example, academies that have been open for 3 years), we need to be aware that different types of schools will have had different starting points and this may affect their ability to improve. For example, sponsored academies generally start with lower attainment so have lots of potential to improve, however, converter academies generally have higher levels of attainment so have much less room for improvement.

 With other parts of the UK

The Welsh Government publishes attainment data for schools in Wales. As in England, the national curriculum is divided into key stages and pupils are assessed at the end of key stage 1, 2 and 3 at ages 7, 11, and 14 respectively. Statutory assessment in Wales is by teacher assessments for all key stages. Further information is available on the Welsh Government website. 

The Scottish Government measures attainment nationally using the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), an annual sample survey of pupil attainment in primary and early secondary school. Further information is available on the Scottish Government website. 

Information on educational attainment for post-primary schools in Northern Ireland is available from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. These assessments are not directly comparable with those for England.

International comparisons

Pupils in England also take part in international surveys such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Study (PIRLS). TIMMS is a comparative international survey of mathematics and science achievement of 9-10 year olds and 13-14 year olds, carried out on pupils from a sample of schools. PIRLS is an international study of how well 9-10 year olds can apply knowledge and skills in reading. 

Pupils in England also participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This assessment aims to compare standards of achievement for 15-year olds in reading, mathematics and science, between participating countries. This study is based on pupils from a sample of schools.

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Annex A: The national curriculum

A new national curriculum was introduced in 2014 and pupils were assessed against the new curriculum for the first time in 2016. 

The national curriculum covers a number of subject areas but not all subjects are covered by statutory assessments. 

All children must be assessed in their final year of a key stage. Most of the children will be in the year group with similarly aged pupils; for example, most 7-year-old pupils will be in year group 2 at the end of key stage 1. Some children, however, may be older or younger because they are not being taught with their chronological age group.

 Some pupils may complete a key stage programme of study in one or more subjects early. In these cases, pupils are only included in the published figures once they have completed the key stage in all subjects. Their results from previous years in the subjects taken early will be included with the current year data.

Phonics screening check 

Pupils in year 1 must also take a phonics screening check. Any year 2 pupils who did not meet the standard in year 1 or did not take the check in year 1, must re-take the check in year 2.

Key stage 1 

At the end of key stage 1, pupils take national curriculum tests in reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; and mathematics. These tests are internally marked by teachers and used, alongside other evidence, to produce teacher assessments in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers are also required to assess pupil’s ability in science. In 2017, schools were not required to administer the KS1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test or to use the result as part of their writing teacher assessment. 

Only the teacher assessments are submitted to the department.

Annex B: Further detail on school characteristics

This section provides further detail on the school type which is taken from Get Information About Schools. School type in the statistical publications are shown as at 11 September at the start of the academic year.

Academy Sponsor Led Sponsored academies are all-ability, state-funded schools established and managed by sponsors from a wide range of backgrounds, including high performing schools and colleges, universities, individual philanthropists, businesses, the voluntary sector, and the faith communities.

Academy Converter Schools that have chosen through Governing Body Resolution and application to the Secretary of State to become an academy under the Academies Act 2010.

Free Schools are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community. They have the same legal requirements as academies and enjoy the same freedoms and flexibilities.

LA maintained school Schools fully or partially under LA control that are state-funded, mainly by the Dedicated Schools Grant. These include community schools, foundation schools, voluntary aided school and voluntary controlled schools and also LA maintained special schools.

Registered independent school Any school which provides full time education for 5 or more pupils of compulsory school age, which is not state-funded or a non-state-funded special school.

Independent special school Approved by the Secretary of State for Education. They are run on a not-for-profit basis by charitable trusts and normally cater for children with severe and/or low incidence special educational needs. This group includes non-maintained special schools.

State-funded school Includes LA maintained schools, academies, free schools, City Technology Colleges and state-funded special schools (excluding hospital schools, pupil referral units, alternative provision and independent schools).

State-funded mainstream schools Includes LA maintained mainstream schools, academies, free schools, City Technology Colleges (excluding all special schools, pupil referral units, alternative provision and independent schools).

State-funded special schools Includes LA maintained special schools, academy sponsor led special schools, academy special schools and special free schools

All independent Includes independent schools, independent special schools and non-maintained special schools.

Alternative provision (AP) Education arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education; education arranged by schools for pupils on a fixed period exclusion; and pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour.

Pupil referral unit (PRU) A pupil referral unit is a type of alternative provision. They are local authority establishments which provide education for children unable to attend a mainstream school.

Hospital Schools Education provided at a community special school or a foundation special school established in a hospital, or education provider under any arrangements made by the local authority under section 19 of the Education Act 1996 (exceptional provision of education), where the child is being provided with such education by reason of a decision made by a medical practitioner. Hospital schools are classified as either special schools or alternative provision.

Information on the phase of education covered by the school is derived from the school’s statutory lowest and highest age of pupils taken from GIAS. These are shown as at 11 September at the start of the academic year. Only mainstream schools are included in the data broken down by the phase of education since special schools are more likely than mainstream schools to be all-through schools.

For key stage 1 and phonics, schools are categorised into infant schools (those with highest statutory pupil age of 7), primary schools (those with highest statutory pupil age between 8 and 11) and other schools (those with highest statutory pupil age greater than 11).

Information is also broken down by the school cohort size which is based on the number of eligible pupils in the school’s end of key stage cohort. Again, only mainstream schools are included in this breakdown since special schools are more likely to have small cohorts.

Annex C: Derived variables

The following derived variables are added to the pupil data.

Pupils included in end of year 2 phonics results  

Data for the year 2 cohort is produced by matching the year 2 phonics results from the current year with key stage 1 results for the current year and year 1 phonics results from the previous year. Pupils are included in the year 2 figures if: 

  • they have a valid year 2 phonics result from the current year; or 
  • they have a valid year 1 phonics result from the previous year and they have a valid key stage 1 result in the current year. 

A binary indicator has been added to the KS1 National Pupil Database to indicate whether pupils should be included in figures for year 2 phonics.

Pupils included in end of year 2 phonics results in 2022

The phonics screening check assessment was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pupils took the phonics screening check in the Autumn term of year 2 in academic year 2021/22, in place of the year 1 check, which was used by schools to determine which pupils needed to take the check at the end of year 2. In 2022 data for attainment in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2, the year 2 Autumn term phonics screening check results are used as a substitute for year 1 results. Our assessment is that this does not affect the comparability of attainment by the end of year 2 figures in 2022 compared to previous years.

Combined phonics result 

If pupils have a result for both year 2 and year 1, the year 2 result is used (even if the year 1 result suggests that the pupil did not need to retake the check in year 2). Where pupils have a valid year 2 phonics result, the LA and school type associated with that result is used. Where they do not have a valid year 2 result, the LA and school type from the key stage 1 record is used. This is so that pupils who have moved schools between year 1 and year 2 are included under their year 2 school.

Pupils included in key stage 1 results 

A small number of pupils have more than one phonics record in either year 1 or year 2. When this data is matched into the KS1 NPD, this can result in some pupils having two records in the KS1 NPD even though they only have one set of KS1 assessments. 

A binary indicator has been added to the KS1 NPD to indicate whether pupils should be included in KS1 figures so that these duplicate records can be consistently removed.

Achieved the expected standard 

The expected standard in the tests is a scaled score of 100. 

Binary indicators have been added to the KS1 data to indicate whether pupils have achieved the expected standard in each subject.

KS1 average point score (APS)

From 2016, average points score were no longer published at KS1. However, pupils in the KS1-2 progress measures will have KS1 results from earlier years. The average of their reading, writing and mathematics (double-weighted) point scores is used to allocate them to a prior attainment group.

National curriculum teacher assessmentPoint score equivalent
Working at greater depth (GDS)10
Working at the expected standard (EXS)8
Working towards the expected standard (WTS)6
M – MissingDisregard
D – DisappliedDisregard
A – AbsentDisregard

The table sets out how points have been allocated to each KS1 TA level (any other results are disregarded). See the primary accountability technical document for details of the points awarded to those pupils with W. 

If any pupils have no point score for one of more subjects, the APS will be calculated from the remaining subjects. 

No decision has yet been made on how to allocate pupils to prior attainment groups for KS1-2 progress measures from 2020 when KS1 APS will no longer be available.

Annex D: Timeline of changes in primary assessment

1988

National curriculum introduced.

1990

First national curriculum tests for pupils at the end of key stage 1 (7 year olds).

1994

First national curriculum tests for pupils at the end of key stage 2 (11 year olds).

1996

Publication of the first primary school performance tables for pupils. The tables showed the achievement of pupils in English, mathematics and science tests and teacher assessments at the end of key stage 2.

1999

Key stage 2 teacher assessments dropped from performance tables.

2002

Foundation stage profile introduced in schools for pupils aged 3 to 5 years.

2003

Data on KS1-2 value added (VA) was included in the performance tables.

2005

Schools were no longer required to report both test results and teacher assessments for pupils at the end of key stage 1 – they only needed to report teacher assessments.

2007

KS1-2 value added data was replaced with contextualised value added (CVA) in the performance tables.

2008

Removal of the borderlining procedure (the process of checking test scripts that fall just below level thresholds) in the marking process.

Delay in the release of results of the key stage 2 test results to schools which led to the Sutherland enquiry.

2009

Last year of key stage 2 science test for all pupils.

Introduction of progress measures in mathematics and English to the performance tables.

2010

Mathematics single level tests pilot.

Introduction of annual science sample test.

Approximately 25% of schools failed to take part in the tests as a result of industrial action.

Key stage 2 teacher assessments re-introduced to the performance tables (in addition to test results).

2011

Single level tests dropped.

Progress measures methodology revised so that the same methodology was used in both the performance tables and the statistical publications.

New value added measures introduced to the performance tables to replace CVA.

2012

Statutory phonics screening check for all year 1 pupils in state-funded schools in England introduced.

Externally marked writing tests were statutory in a sample of schools. All other state-funded schools had to administer the writing test to inform their writing teacher assessment but could choose to mark it internally if they wished. Subject levels for English were calculated by combining the reading test mark with the writing teacher assessment.

First collection of separate reading and writing teacher assessments.

Introduction of optional level 6 tests.

Final year of annual science sample test.

2013

Re-take of phonics screening check for pupils in year 2 who failed to achieve the required standard in year 1 introduced.

Introduction of grammar, punctuation and spelling test.

Reporting of overall English replaced with reading and writing results separately.

Introduction of separate reading and writing progress measures.

2014

The phonics threshold mark was not communicated to schools in advance of the phonics screening check as it had been in previous years.

Calculators were not allowed in any of the level 3-5 mathematics tests. In previous years, they were allowed for paper 2.

Minor changes to the timing of the reading test - instead of being given 15 minutes reading time and 45 minutes to answer the questions, children had a total of one hour to read the texts and complete the questions.

Introduction of new science sample test every two years.

2015

Changes to moderation arrangements at KS1 to ensure that 50% of infant schools were moderated each year.

All KS2 tests were marked on screen (previously reading and mathematics tests were marked on paper).

2016

Assessments are based on the new national curriculum. National curriculum levels are no longer used.

New tests for key stage 1 and key stage 2 introduced using scaled scores.

Teacher assessments are based on the interim teacher assessment framework and the interim pre key stage standards. They have moved from a ‘best fit’ judgement’, where pupils could compensate for poor performance in one area of the curriculum by strong performance in another, ‘to ‘secure fit’’, where all statements within the standard need to be achieved.

The expectations for pupils at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 were raised to be broadly equivalent to the old level 2b and level 4b respectively.

2018

Changes made within the Teacher Assessment frameworks mean that the writing teacher assessment judgements in 2018 are not directly comparable to those made using the previous interim frameworks in 2016 and 2017.

2019

Schools are no longer required to make statutory TA judgements in English reading and mathematics at KS2. This is to reduce assessment burdens in schools, as set out in the government response to the consultation on Primary assessment in England.

Changes made within the Teacher Assessment frameworks mean that the science teacher assessment judgements in 2019 are not directly comparable to those made using the previous frameworks in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The ‘pupil can’ statements have been refined for clarity, based on feedback from teachers and other educational experts.

2020 and 2021 

Assessments were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.

2022

The engagement model is statutory for use from 2021/22 academic year. Schools can no longer assess pupils against P scales 1 to 4 but will instead assess pupils who are working below the standard of national curriculum assessments and are non-engaged in subject-specific study using the engagement model.  

No primary school level data will be published on performance tables in 2022. 

The D (disapplied) code was also removed from writing and science teacher assessment in 2022. 

Annex E: Glossary and abbreviations

Average scaled score The average scaled score is calculated as the mean scaled score of all pupils awarded a scaled score. Pupils who did not take the test or took the test but did not receive a scaled score are excluded.

COLLECT Collections On-Line for Learning, Education, Children and Teachers - a system used by the department to collect data from schools, LAs and other organisations.

GIAS Get Information About Schools is a register of educational establishments in England and Wales, maintained by the department. It provides information on establishments providing compulsory, higher and further education. The information included is provided from the establishments themselves and also from LAs and teams within the department.

Engagement Model An assessment tool for pupils who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are not engaged in subject-specific study.

Expected standard The expected standard in the tests corresponds to a scaled score of 100.

Final data Final KS1 and phonics data is available in November. Final KS2 data is available in March following the errata period. The performance tables are updated with this data.

GPS Grammar, punctuation and spelling. Pupils take a test of grammar, punctuation and spelling at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2.

High score A high score in the tests is a scaled score of 110 or above.

KS1 Key stage 1. This covers year 1 and year 2 in primary schools. Pupils are normally 6 or 7 years old at the end of key stage 1.

KS2 Key stage 2. This covers years 3 to 6 in primary schools. Pupils are normally 10 or 11 years old at the end of key stage 2.

LA Local authority

Maladministration Maladministration refers to any act that: affects the integrity, security or confidentiality of the national curriculum assessments; could lead to results and/or outcomes that don’t reflect pupils’ unaided work or actual abilities. (Key stages 1 and 2: investigating allegations of maladministration)

Primary Assessment Gateway Schools and LAs use the Primary Assessment Gateway website to support administration of the national curriculum tests, including the phonics screening check, and submission of key stage 2 teacher assessments.

National Pupil Database (NPD) The NPD contains detailed information about pupils in schools and colleges in England. It includes test and exam results, prior attainment and progression at different key stages and also includes information about pupils’ characteristics.

Phonics screening check The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It will identify pupils who need extra help to improve their decoding skills. The check consists of 20 real words and 20 pseudo-words that a pupil reads aloud to the teacher. Pupils in year 1 (age 5 or 6) must take the phonics screening check. Any year 2 pupils who did not meet the standard in year 1 or did not take the check in year 1 must retake the check in year 2.

Performance tables Primary school performance tables are published in December of each year on the Find and Compare Schools in England website. Secondary school and post-16 performance tables are published in January. They give information on the achievements of pupils in primary, secondary and 16-18 provision in schools and colleges, and how they compare with other schools and colleges in the Local Authority (LA) area and in England as a whole.

Progress measures KS1-2 progress measures for 2016 onwards are based on a value added methodology. Pupils are grouped according to their prior attainment at KS1. Their KS2 attainment is compared to the average KS2 attainment for all pupils nationally who are in the same prior attainment group. Pupil progress scores are then averaged to give a figure for the average progress made by pupils within a school. A progress score of zero indicates that the school has made average progress, below zero that they have made less than average progress and above zero that they have made more than average progress. There are separate progress measures in reading, writing and mathematics.

Provisional data Provisional phonics and KS1 data is published in September of each year and provisional KS2 data is published in August/September each year. The provisional data is subject to change though the impact on national data is usually minimal.

Reviews If schools believe that the mark scheme has not been correctly applied or a clerical error has been made, they may ask for a paper to be reviewed. This may result in a change to the mark or scaled score awarded.

STA Standards and Testing Agency

TA Teacher Assessment

Threshold measures ‘Threshold measures’ refer to any figures where we show the percentage of pupils who have achieved a particular standard in a subject or combination of subjects, for example, the percentage achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics.

Annex F: Key users and uses

Department for Education

  • Used to monitor national standards of literacy and numeracy in primary school children in England. The national figures are used to determine whether standards are improving or declining.
  • Data for sub-groups of the population are also analysed to inform departmental policies aimed at closing gaps in attainment.
  • School level figures are used to identify schools where intervention may be needed.

Ofsted

  • Used as part of the background information to inform school inspections. For example, it enables inspectors to identify areas of the curriculum or groups of pupils where a school appears to be doing less well that would then form part of the focus during the inspection visit.

Ofqual

  • Used as part of the evidence it reviews on the setting and maintenance of standards in national assessments.

Local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs)

  • Use the national data and that for other LAs to set the attainment of their area into context.
  • Use the school level information to hold maintained schools to account.

Schools

  • Used to evaluate their own performance against national standards and other local schools.
  • Used to identify high performing schools with similar circumstances to their own that they can work with to improve their own standards.

School governors

  • Used to hold schools to account, to identify strengths and weaknesses and support school improvement.

Teachers and head teachers

  • Used to carry out analysis and self-evaluation, and to aid planning of school improvement strategies.
  • Use the information to inform decisions about whether to apply for vacancies in particular schools and also as background information when preparing for interviews.

Parents

  • Used to compare their own children’s performance to others in their school, LA and nationally.
  • Used to hold their children’s schools to account and identify areas where they feel the school needs to improve.
  • Used to inform choice of a primary school for their child.
  • Performance of schools in the local area is also a key consideration for parents and prospective parents when moving house.

Others

  • Researchers from this country and abroad. Others use the information to identify schools with particular levels of attainment that they may wish to market their services to.