Best Practice

Life after Levels: The key challenges

There are four very good reasons for removing national curriculum levels and five challenges facing us as we move forward. Chris Quigley offers a six-step route map to assessment reform

Understanding why national curriculum levels were removed is central to the way that we teach the curriculum and assess pupil progress. In fact, the reasons for their removal means changing the whole way that we view pupil progress.

Four compelling reasons for the removal of levels were presented by Tim Oates, chair of the Expert Panel responsible for revising the national curriculum.

The first was an undue emphasis on pace. The rate of progress, or how fast pupils moved through the levels, had become more important than pupils' understanding of the curriculum. The whole notion of progress had become about speed. This put intense pressure on schools to move pupils on, even if they did not fully understand the key concepts from the curriculum. This also led to a rather bizarre situation where, despite having a national expectation, it became expected that pupils exceeded the national expectation.

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