Nine things you should know about Levels
- The government have written a national curriculum (NC) which all state schools must follow. Alongside this NC, the govenment have produced level descriptors which describe what a child must be able to do to achive a particular level in a particular subject area.
- There are eight levels between year 1 and year 9.
- The national average level to achieve by the end of year 9 is a level 5 or 6. At Bushey Meads our students make more progress than the average school, so for us the average at the end of year 9 is well within level 6. See the table in point 9.
- Some of our most able students may achieve a level 7. Nationally it is very rare to achieve level 8 (which is supposed to correspond to a GCSE level C or above), although at Bushey Meads it is common for our very highest achieving mathematicians and information technologists to do so, and occasionally even in other subjects. Point 6 below explains this variation.
- Some students will arrive at Bushey Meads with lower than average levels (because we are a comprehensive school), and they will usually be less academically disposed to progress so rapidly in academic subjects. For some of our less academically able a level 4 at the end of year 9 could represent good progress. Only a tiny number of students will end year 9 with a lower level than this.
- Nationally, levels achieved in different subjects vary. This is counter-intutitive for most parents who expect that a child performing at an equal position within the population will be measured with an equal level across all subjects. But this is not the case. The national average level in maths is around a whole level higher than most subjects, and for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) is is much lower. This is the only reason why you will find different target levels for your child in different subjects.
- Each level is very broad. The national average progress between year 6 and year 9 is two levels. So it is quite possible for a child who is making good progress to end the year with the same level as they started. Therefore Bushey Meads, like most schools, further subdivides each level, with 6a being higher than 6b which is higher than 6c. There are no government level descriptors for these sublevels and we do not report sublevels to the government. Schools subdivide levels in this way in order to try to fine tune the measure of progress.
- The level descriptors themselves retain a signifant amout of subjectivity; when, for example, does a piece of work move from being ‘descriptive’ to being ‘evaluative’ – how much evaluation does it need in order to assess it as ‘evaluative’ and record a higher level? The descriptors also encompass a broad range of competencies within a subject, only some of which are tested in any particular module of work; so a child may work at a very high level in, say, IT, when involved in a numerically based aspect of the subject because they are talented numerically, but at a lower level when involved in a more graphically based IT project because they are not so visually talented. Therefore although teachers try to provide as clear a picture of a child’s level as possible, by smoothing out a trend across a wide body of work, an element of fluctuation in reported levels is not uncommon.
- Finally, see below a table showing the levels achieved at the end of year 9 at Bushey Meads in 2012.
All figures in percentages. 4+ means level 4 or higher, 5+ means level 5 or higher