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A New National Curriculum

Last year the government published a new Primary National Curriculum. This curriculum is now compulsory for all maintained schools across the country. The curriculum has been designed to enable children to learn to a comparable standard with some of the highest attaining jurisdictions in the world.

The new curriculum contains less content than the previous national curriculum but there are some marked differences in the challenge presented to children and the degree to which children are expected to be fluent and independent in their learning. The new curriculum has been entitled a ‘mastery’ curriculum. The idea is that children will learn fewer things but what they do learn they will do in much greater depth.

This year children in Year 6 will take the first ever assessment tests for this new curriculum. There will be tests for Reading, Spelling and Grammar, Maths and Mental Arithmetic. Writing will continue to be assessed by our teachers in school.

We don’t know what the new test papers will look like but the government have published what they expect our children to demonstrate to show a secure standard of understanding in the new curriculum.

The following extracts are taken from Dfe:

Key Stage 1

Key Stage 2

End of Levels

The new national curriculum will no longer be assessed using levels. Levels have been completely removed from all national and school based assessment. At the end KS2 children will now be assessed as having either a ‘secure’ understanding of the curriculum or not. Children who are not ‘secure’ will be described as ‘Working towards’ age related expectations and children who can demonstrate a more developed understanding will be described as ‘Exceeding’ age related expectations.

The descriptors for what the government now expect children to demonstrate at the end of KS2 are becoming much clearer. However, the government has not published any description of end of year expectations for children in Years 3, 4 and 5. This has been left for schools to entirely design for themselves.

Last year our teachers worked closely with educational advisors from Hampshire to research and develop a programme of end of year expectations for children across the school. From this September all our year groups have a series of end of year expectations, in the form of targets, for children to understand and secure. These targets are based on work by Essex County Council and are called ‘Target Tracker Steps’. You can find all the end of year Target Tracker expectations and targets on our website.

A Journey

In the new curriculum all our children are now on a journey each year towards mastering an understanding of certain knowledge, skills and concepts. At the beginning of the year the children can be considered as ‘apprentice’ learners on this journey. As they work and develop their understanding they will move from being an ‘apprentice’ to a ‘competent’ learner and eventually on to becoming an ‘expert’ learner.

Whilst we assess your child's understanding lesson by lesson, we also look at the bigger picture of how well your child is progressing at key milestones in the school year. These three milestones are typically in late November, February and late June. At each of these points teachers will draw together everything they know about a child to assess whether they are on track to ‘secure’ all the targets within the end of year expectations by July.

Teachers will look carefully at children’s work, observation notes and outcomes from possible tests to form a judgement on whether a child is on track.

In November, we expect the children to be ‘apprentice’ learners so teachers will describe children as ‘below’ or ‘working towards’  or 'on track' to meet particular end of year targets. In February this will develop and children will be described as ‘working towards or ‘secure’ in targets. Importantly teachers will pinpoint areas of strength and areas for children to continue to focus on in their journey and pursuit towards ‘securing’ all their targets by July.

At the end of the year

At the end of the year teachers will make a judgement about a child’s ability, fluency and independence to demonstrate all the targets within the end of year expectations. A child will have a profile which will show areas of strength and development in the attainment of end of year expectations. Teachers will then judge this profile of attainment using the following descriptors.

Below Expectations

The child is able to access the content of the curriculum and is working towards some targets.

Working towards

The child can demonstrate their knowledge and skills but lacks confidence and independence in some areas.


The child can confidently demonstrate their knowledge and skill independently across a range of situations with a degree of fluency.

Working at Greater Depth 

Over time and represented in multiple ways, the child can link related ideas and independently apply their knowledge and skill to a range of unfamiliar and unknown contexts.


What if my child is able? Will he/she be moved on to the next year’s expectations?

Children will not move on to the following year’s targets and expectations. Able children can be challenged effectively through ‘deeper’ tasks that require them to evaluate, investigate, analyse and hypothesise about their current learning.

What will happen if my child does not secure age related expectations at the end of the year? Will they be held back?

A number of children may not fully secure age related expectations at the end of the year. They will not be held back! Teachers will identify the gaps in their understanding and will pass this information on to the next class teacher. The new class teacher will then focus on these areas through targeted support and attempt to secure these as quickly as possible the following year. The children will work on these areas of development as well as work towards the targets in their new year group.

My child has SEN, what will happen if they can’t access or achieve end of year expectations?

Children with SEN will be supported through their IEP and will continue to focus on their relevant strengths and areas for development. Teachers and support staff will focus on making good developmental progress appropriate for each child. 

How can I help?

Firstly, don’t panic! Recognise that your child is on a journey towards end of the year expectations. There will be ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in this journey and children may struggle and find things tough for periods. However we confidently expect that all our children can and will do it.

Please value your child’s homework. The regular practice of key skills and daily reading are essential if your child is to achieve. If you would like your child to have additional tuition or homework,please contact your child’s teacher who will be happy to facilitate this. The following websites can also provide a useful basis for home learning.