Educational leadership & learning

Assessment Journeys

A fascinating year: life after levels

There was a lot of debate both online and in ‘face to face’ life during the summer term 2014 about the removal of National Curriculum levels. Schools seemed to be deciding either to buy into a new tracking system or to remain with levels for one more year to wait and see what happened. At this time I took Michael Tidd’s (@MichaelT1979) Key Objectives ( and created a very basic Excel spreadsheet (although Michael made it look far more professional). The aim was to allow my Y1 teacher to trail assessing against objectives she was actually teaching, but still to give myself as headteacher some data which I could share with Governors, the LA and Ofsted. (Ofsted duly visited in May and seemed happy with the system, but mainly I think because of the progress clearly evident in the books).

This year has been fascinating. Both internally as we have trialled the system in Y1 (YR have used Pro-tracker and Y2 have continued with NC levels obviously). It became very clear to my Y1 teacher and myself that it was fairly straightforward for children to be assessed as emerging, it took longer and a lot more evidence to assess they had met end of year expectations and moving beyond / deeper… has resulted in many interesting conversations.

I have also been fortunate enough to discuss assessment principles, purposes and systems with a number of colleagues externally. It seems that some schools have fallen into the apparent trap of planning work for the next week to tick boxes in a tracking system, as opposed to identifying gaps in the learning journey for their pupils. I know this may sound very similar: but is the dog of curriculum and assessment wagging the tail of a tracking system or vica-versa?

What I think has become clearer this year, is that the aim of removing levels (according to Tim Oates) is to change the style of learning and assessment. To get away from a linear progression reaching ever higher and from labelling the pupils. This concept of ‘new learning’ where pupils are not rushed quickly (rapid and sustained progress in Ofsted speak) onto the next level of objectives, as this has shown to leave conceptual gaps in understanding. The aim is for fewer things in greater depth, to ensure that all pupils (except maybe a few pupils with severe specific learning difficulties) meet end of year expectations. That those who might have met them by Easter, are given additional extension and enrichment activities to develop/challenge their depth of thinking/understanding in those objectives, rather than moving onto new objectives.

We think there will be more of an ‘EYFS style’ to this approach to ‘new learning’. In discussion with my LA Leadership and Learning Partner (Caroline Wilkins), we discussed the idea of a ‘grandparent curriculum’, i.e. sitting alongside the learner and using questions and assessment to understand how pupils are thinking and identify misconceptions. As opposed to the teacher having a set answer in their head that they are waiting for the pupils to provide, so that the teacher can tick a box. It’s also about giving the pupils more choice / ownership of the contexts in which they show their understanding.

Eric Halton (Hampshire LA lead for assessment) also talk about the model of a wall. The ‘bricks’ put into place each year need to be highly secure with strong links of understanding between them. This way in future years, more rows of bricks can be added with confidence, and without concern about crumbling or forgotten foundations. He also recommended summary judgements for the separate ‘domains’ within Reading, writing and maths, which I have included in the new updated versions.

Updated “Assessment Journey” Excel spreadsheets

I have updated the Excel spreadsheets that Michael and I created to share with colleagues in the summer term 2014. Again this has followed a number of conversations during the course of the year. Many thanks to Andy Higgs (@andrewbhiggs) who kindly shared a series of spreadsheets he and his staff had created to track all the NC objectives. It opened up different conversations about whether only tracking key objectives are we in danger of teaching what we need to assess, when we must ensure we help our pupils learn the full curriculum. It also raised the question of whether we can confidently say a pupil has achieved end of year expectations if we only track the key objectives? How much detail do we need?

Therefore the new versions which we are going to trial next year (in Y1-Y3) are linked to this blog. The main changes are:

  • Updated information page which gives clearer definition of when to give a 1 (Emerging / Apprentice), a 2 (Mastery / Competence) or a 3 (Deep learning / Expert)
  • A suggested progression for All and Most Able pupils, and where they should be to on track for end of year expectations at different points in the year
  • How our class teachers will use the “Assessment Journeys”, numerical targets to aim for, but not be enslaved to and to give an overall ‘domain’ Teacher Assessment judgement in February and July
  • On each sheet (Reading, Writing and Maths) with have added pupil groups columns to allow us to quickly filter for specific groups
  • The NAHT KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are identified in red font. As well as an overall total / percentage for all objectives, the sheets are also set up to calculate a percentage of the NAHT KPIs
  • Hampshire LA suggested Phases for Key Objectives to be taught / learnt. Phase 1 by November, Phase 2 by February and Phase 3 by May

Y1 NC Assessment Journey

Y2 NC Assessment Journey

Y3 NC Assessment Journey

Y4 NC Assessment Journey

Y5 NC Assessment Journey

Y6 NC Assessment Journey

When we meet during next year for 1 to 1 Pupil Achievement Meetings (PAMs), we will focus mainly on the KPIs and the domain summaries, but class teachers will have more fine detail assessment details for individuals and groups, with which to target future learning journeys.

My aim is still that these “Assessment Journey” spreadsheets should be a valuable and useful tool for class teachers, a support to the professional discussions about pupils’ learning and provide sufficient detail at whole school level to evidence our judgements (alongside books and pupil comments).

They are still fairly straightforward documents, and I am sure there are other better products on the market. But crucially I think it’s not about which tracking system we use, but the way it is used to support (not lead) teaching, learning and assessment.


Cornerstone CE Primary, Hampshire


Comments on: "Assessment Journeys" (14)

  1. Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Teacher and commented:
    A fascinating insight into the journey and thinking behind one school’s assessment journey – with some free resources attached too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on EdBearSaid and commented:
    Via @tim_jumpclarke

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Tim, it’s good to hear of other schools adjusting systems as they go along. We too are adapting as we go, but I hear of other schools using systems that aren’t working rather than admitting they’ve got it wrong. I agree that analysing the gaps is the key to assessing our children – providing we are doing something about these gaps. Interesting to hear you are getting somewhere with the mastery element; that is my challenge for the next 12 months. I will have to share my thoughts on our assessment system – it’s good to know what others are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Abigail Greig said:

    Thank you for this excellent resource and for all the thinking that has gone on behind it. Did you notice that the Y6 spreadsheet is missing the key objectives for maths?


    • Hello Abigail.
      You are very welcome. Yes there are a few elements of Y5 and Y6 that are not quite completed. At the moment we only have YR-Y2 in our primary school, and as I thought it was unlikely I would complete Y5 and Y6 prior to the end of term, I took the decision to share the work so far so people could see it earlier in case they wanted to use / adapt them for September. Once they are complete I will update the blog.


  5. Gaz Needle said:

    Thanks for sharing these Tim. I am never afraid to ask the stupid question as I often feel that others are thinking the same way so… I have heard lots about deepening understanding. This is a question to anyone reading this blog as well as you Tim: What do people understand by deepening or challenging the depth f understanding a child has? How would we do that? For example, a Year 2 child who seems to have a good understanding of telling the time to the nearest five minutes – how would you deepen that understanding?


    • Really great question Gaz (definitely not stupid). Whist we have tried to define it in general terms, the challenge of your specific example of telling the time to the nearest five minutes has really got me thinking.
      I don’t think any answer is going to be fully agreed or straightforward, and I may well change my mind over the coming months / years.
      For me having mastery or sufficient competence of end of year expectations means the learner knows it, remembers it and understands it. They can apply it when asked in different contexts.
      Might deeper learning be more about the ownership and use of the knowledge / skill. So the learner uses it accurately, fluently, reflecting on how effectively and efficiently they have used it. They choose when and how to use it automatically.
      In the analogy of driving a car: is somewhere between the difference of having enough mastery to pass your test and be a learner driver out on your own, to be being such a master that you automatically respond and act without often thinking consciously about it.
      So in your example of a child being able to tell the time to 5 minutes would it be that they choose to apply that knowledge in other areas of the curriculum / life generally. That they might use it during a kick about at lunchtime to swap goalkeepers. That they might make informed decisions about when 5 minutes is an appropriate amount of time, and when 3 or 10 might be better? That they evaluate different uses / purposes of defined time slots (like 5 minutes).
      Not quite sure if this is clear or makes sense. I am sure it’s not my final thinking. May well turn to Twitter to gain more opinions.


  6. Hi. I favourited this on Twitter when I first saw it to read later. I’m about to embark on leading on assessment in a new school. It is interesting to hear about the journey you’ve been on and I’m thinking the spreadsheets will be useful to me too. I’m glad I revisited this at this point. I agree with what you say about not just teaching to the key objectives but keeping the curriculum broad.
    I am interested to know how you evidence the statements. Do you carry out any moderation looking for evidence? When do we say a child has achieved something? Good to hear that ofsted were happy.
    Thank you for this article. I will follow your progress with interest and hope you don’t mind if I contact you for further advice?


  7. angie stevens said:

    Many thanks. This is exactly what I was about to embark on creating.
    I am going to play around with the total and percentage columns though, as they can allow a ‘best fit’ expected pupil to fall into only an emerging judgment. I’ll keep you updated with the new formulae I put in!
    Still can’t believe just how much time this has saved me. I am super grateful. Thank you.


    • Very welcome Angie. We all have far too much to do for everyone to be creating everything from the start. I’ll be interested to see how you develop it and how you find using it in practice. All the best.


  8. Helen King said:

    Tim – thank goodness I found you! Well, your spreadsheets anyway! We’ve been searching for a straightforward system to use in our Lower School which will help teachers rather than making them despair as well as providing the head with his required data for analysis. I have looked at many systems and yours seems to give us a really good start. THANK YOU! (Can I just ask where you might put any further amendments/modifications as you use the spreadsheets tho?)


  9. Glad it is of some use to you. I will be posting any updates on this wordpress blog. If you have any feedback about how you are using or improving it, I would obviously be interested to hear from you. All the best.


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