National Curriculum Levels

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A Glossary of Terms.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

The EYFS covers education for children before they reach five (compulsory school age).

Key Stage 1 - Infant School. Reception(Early Years/Foundation) Years 1 & 2

Key stage 2 - Junior School, Year 3 - Year 6

Key stage 3 & 4 - Secondary School, Year 7 +

National curriculum - Nationally decided range of subjects and topics.

Covers Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and Science. May soon include History.

Programmes of study - This is what teachers have to teach.

Level - A method of comparing your child's ability against local and national standards of achievement in Literacy and Numeracy. The spread of marks required to achieve each level is wide. It takes, on average, two years to complete each level.

Levels are established by teacher observations, reports and children taking SATS tests during summer terms in Year 2 and Year 6

National Curriculum levels

The programmes of study also map out a scale of attainment within the subject. In most Key Stage 1, 2, and 3 subjects, these “attainment targets” are split into eight levels, plus a description of “exceptional performance”. The exception is Citizenship, which has separate attainment targets for the end of Key Stages 3 and 4.

Children develop at different rates, but National Curriculum levels can give you an idea of how your child’s progress compares to what is typical for their age. For example, by the end of Key Stage 1, most children will have reached level 2, and by the end of Key Stage 2, most will be at level 4.

Schools send a report to parents explaining what National Curriculum levels the child has reached in any formal assessments.

Level descriptors - This is what teachers use to decide what level a child is working at. It is a checklist of skills and knowledge. Teacher assessment - level given to child by teacher based on work throughout the year.

SATs - Although only the ones in Year 2 & 6 are reported in the school league tables SAT tests are often given at the end of each school year to show progress.

National Tests - The name given by the Government to the statutory tests in the Core and Foundation subjects of the National Curriculum, taken by all children in Local Authority schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2

League tables & Ofsted reports - The League tables should show well the school is performing compared to other similar schools. Baseline Assessment - A test designed to establish the attainment level of children when they first enter schools at 5 years and transfer to secondary schools at 11 years. Their performance is regarded as a 'baseline' from which their subsequent performance may be predicted, monitored and any relative improvement or deterioration judged.

Reading Age - This tells you the current developmental level of a child's performance in a particular area of reading. For example, a nine-year-old child with a reading age of nine is performing at the national average level for his or her age. Another child aged nine years, with a reading age of 10, is developmentally 12 months ahead of the average in reading.

The Level Descriptors

EYFS See separate sheets


Level 1

Speaking and Listening

Pupils talk about matters of immediate interest. They listen to others and usually respond appropriately. They convey simple meanings to a range of listeners, speaking audibly, and begin to extend their ideas or accounts by providing some detail.


Pupils recognise familiar words in simple texts. They use their knowledge of letters and sound-symbol relationships in order to read words and to establish meaning when reading aloud. In these activities they sometimes require support. They express their response to poems, stories and non-fiction by identifying aspects they like.


Pupils' writing communicates meaning through simple words and phrases. In their reading or their writing, pupils begin to show awareness of how full stops are used. Letters are usually clearly shaped and correctly orientated.

Level 2

Speaking and Listening

Pupils begin to show confidence in talking and listening, particularly where the topics interest them. On occasions, they show awareness of the needs of the listener by including relevant detail. In developing and explaining their ideas they speak clearly and use a growing vocabulary. They usually listen carefully and respond with increasing appropriateness to what others say. They are beginning to be aware that in some situations a more formal vocabulary and tone of voice are used.


Pupils' reading of simple texts shows understanding and is generally accurate. They express opinions about major events or ideas in stories, poems and non-fiction. They use more than one strategy, such as phonic (sounding), graphic (looking at letter shapes), syntactic (working it out from the grammar) and contextual (working it out from the rest of the sentence), in reading unfamiliar words and establishing meaning.


Pupils' writing communicates meaning in both narrative (stories) and non- narrative (factual) forms, using appropriate and interesting vocabulary, and showing some awareness of the reader. Ideas are developed in a sequence of sentences, sometimes correctly placed capital letters and full stops. Simple, monosyllabic words are usually spelt correctly, and where there are inaccuracies the alternative is phonetically plausible. In handwriting, letters are accurately formed and consistent in size.

Levels 3-5

  • Level 3 - a child who is reading at this level is able to read and enjoy a range of fairly complex fiction and non-fiction books. He or she can also work out the main points of a story, and write a simple sentence


  • Level 4 - In order to reach this level the child must be able to read between the lines and understand the point, or moral of the story. They must also be able to write longer sentences, using punctuation such as commas, and choose words for effect.
  • Level 5 - A pupil at this level has well organised writing, and writes in paragraphs. They can recognise different writing techniques,and adapt their writing to suit their audience and purpose. They will also be able to compose complex sentences.


Level 1

Pupils use mathematics as an integral part of classroom activities. They represent their work with objects or pictures and discuss it. They recognise and use a simple pattern or relationship. Pupils count, order, add and subtract numbers when solving problems involving up to 10 objects. They read and write the numbers involved When working with 2-D and 3-D shapes, pupils use everyday language to describe properties and positions. They measure and order objects using direct comparison, and order events. Pupils sort objects and classify them, and can explain why they did it that way.

Level 2

Pupils select the mathematics they use in some classroom activities. They discuss their work using mathematical language and are beginning to represent it using symbols and simple diagrams. They explain why an answer is correct. Pupils count sets of objects reliably, and use mental recall of addition and subtraction facts to 10. They begin to understand the place value of each digit in a number and use this to order numbers up to 100. They choose the appropriate operation when solving addition and subtraction problems. They use the knowledge that subtraction is the inverse of addition. They use mental calculation strategies to solve number problems involving money and measures. They recognise sequences of numbers, including odd and even numbers. Pupils use mathematical names for common 3-D and 2-D shapes and describe their properties, including numbers of sides and corners. They distinguish between straight and turning movements, understand angle as a measurement of turn, and recognise right angles in turns. They begin to use everyday non-standard and standard units to measure length and mass. Pupils sort objects and classify them using more than one criterion. When they have gathered information, pupils record results in simple lists, tables and block graphs, in order to communicate their findings.

Level 3

A pupil at this level can do simple decimal and fraction calculations, as well as add and subtract two figures in their head. He or she will know their two, three, four, five and 10 times tables, and will also be able to identify 2D and 3D shapes, and make a bar chart.

Level 4

Children reaching this level will be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide without using a calculator, and know all their times tables up to 10 x 10. Their working out is clear and organised, they can plot co-ordinates on a graph and work out area and perimeter.

Level 5

In order to reach this level a child must be able to think mathematically and explain their own reasoning. They can do simple equations and algebra and calculate in fractions and percentages. The pupil should also be able to calculate angles and understand the basics of probability.

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