Last Monday a perfectly lovely lady from the LA came to eat biscuits, drink tea and most importantly moderate our writing standards. While we were initially worried about this event as the Pre Key Stage Standards (PKS) are brand spanking new, we learned so much during that session and we realised we shouldn’t have been fearful at all.

Prior to the moderation  session our Key stage 2 leader and I took the decision that the PKS 2 standard for writing was far too high for our children who are working completely within the P Levels. We decided to level against the PKS 1 standard . Our rationale was that if we use PKS 2 our children would make no progress from one key stage to the next and it would be like making a return to the old ‘w’ for working towards.

On that Monday the first thing we learned was that the lovely lady was not with us to moderate. She had come to advise and discuss the new PKS with us. Everything is just too new at the moment to moderate. Fair enough we thought, we’ll listen and learn.

Almost immediately we discovered that we can’t use the PKS from key stage 1 irrespective of the level our children are working at. We worked together, all three of us and took a closer look at the KS 2 standards and realised that we could actually meet a few of the targets. We worked on the assumption that for the children on the higher P Levels, those just below the national curriculum standard, we are able to use the PK standards. They won’t meet all the targets but they will be there. The flaw is that some of our children achieve vastly differently on the P Levels but the PKS Standards are too wide and all our children now come out on the same level.

For those on P 4 and below we are able to use the Engagement Scales. That is not an issue, except we would have preferred it to allow for some subject based assessment.

So far we had covered the children on high P Levels and those on P4 and below. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there is a gap where Engagement Scales are too low and PKS are too high. Also, the Pre Key Stage Standards, as the lovely lady pointed out, don’t recognise what our children can achieve in other areas. There is no allowances made for their success in areas which may not be academic. Sometimes non academic achievements are more important for our very special children.

In conclusion, we will continue to use the P Levels to assess internally. They aren’t broken for us so we won’t be fixing them any time soon. There are several performance indicators on P levels and that enables us to show progress for all our children and young people.

For external purposes we will use the Pre key Stage Standards and the Engagement Scales as directed. The weakness is that there is not enough detail in the system. There remains a gap where children are not covered. As a school we are working on a system tailored to meet the needs of all our children and young people.

That Monday spent with the lovely lady from the LA was very valuable to us. She loved our work and admired the folders and the pen portraits we had produced to give her an insight into our children and the challenges they face. Inspirational was the word she used when referring to our work. We were very proud of our children as always.

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