Michael Gove has announced that there will be no level statements of attainment for the new National Curriculum. The reasons given on the DfE website:
We believe this system is complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents. It also encourages teachers to focus on a pupil’s current level, rather than consider more broadly what the pupil can actually do. Prescribing a single detailed approach to assessment does not fit with the curriculum freedoms we are giving schools.
Where will this leave schools in planning lessons that enable learning and ensure progression? And where will it leave Ofsted when they look at lessons? Judging lessons on pupils’ awareness of their level and what they need to do to move to a higher level will no longer be relevant. This was always tricky territory at best, particularly the practice of moving between sub levels, and in many cases led to ritualistic lessons providing so called progression data that had very little to do with genuine learning. Will each school have its own unique way of ensuring progression? How will Ofsted establish any sort of orthodoxy or consistency?
Maybe the following questions can be considered when planning and looking at lessons:
- Is the content of the lesson appropriate for the subject?
- Does the content build on previous learning?
- Do the pupils comprehend what they are being asked to learn?
- Do the pupils understand why this learning is important?
- Do the pupils know what they have to do to achieve this learning?
- Are the pupils actively involved in the learning?
- Is there appropriate stretch and challenge to ensure that all pupils are making progress albeit from different starting points and at different rates?
- Are there opportunities for pupils to show that they can be self-directed?
- Are there opportunities for pupils to make decisions about how to tackle the required learning?
If teachers can plan lessons so that the above can be answered successfully then perhaps the demise of levels is not such a bad thing.