Sunday, 5 February 2012

National Curriculum Levels -Writing

One of the things Ofsted likes to ask children during inspections is "What level are you working at?" and the inevitable follow up question, "What do you need to do to reach your target level?"

To get a level 5, for example children are told they must use 2 tenses. So, is "Je joue au tennis et hier soir j'ai joué au tennis." a level 5 sentence? No. I don't think so, either.

So last term the department came up with a list of criteria we would use for judging our students' extended writing. A list which we could use and also which students could use as a checklist for self and peer assessment.

So here it is:


Minimum 25 words / 4 sentences

3 verbs (or 2 verbs +2 forms e.g. je, il, nous, etc)

Adjectives and agreement.

Simple linking



Minimum 40 words / 7 sentences

5 verbs (including different form e.g. je, il, nous, etc)

Variety of opinions /adjectives with agreement


Variety of qualifiers


Approximately 75 words / 10 sentences

7 verbs

Two tenses (minimum 3 verbs per tense and different forms)

Range of adjectives / opinions (including opinion phrases)

Appropriate linking

Range of qualifiers


Around 100 words / 10 sentences

7 verbs

Three tenses (minimum 3 verbs per tense and different forms)

Range of adjectives / opinions (including opinion phrases)

Appropriate linking (at least 5 different ones)

Range of time phrases and structures

Range of qualifiers


Steve Smith said...

Hello Dom. never thought of doing that. Is it really worthwhile though? Fortunately, at our school we are not expected to level work more than once a term and I'm sure we only do that for Ofsted, not for any other reason.

Dom said...

Hi Steve,
Many thanks for the comment. We did it for two reasons: firstly because my school, like many, is obsessed with data and we are now testing and reporting to parents every six weeks. Secondly, in the past we have had colleagues who have graded students' work as level 6 with one example each of present, future and past tenses. I feel this way it is fairer on the students and the teachers are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Steve Smith said...

I wonder how much longer we'll be asked to level work. Rumours coming out of the curriculum review that we may be seeing a new approach to levels in the future. There seems to be evidence they they are counter-productive anyway.

Dom said...

I agree, Steve. We were never supposed to level work anyway. National Curriculum levels were supposed to be an "end of Key Stage level". Schools are obsessed by levels and targets and until this stops, I fear with are stuck with them.

Valerie McIntyre said...

Dom I really liked this and shared it with the team on Monday - we are going to nick it if you don't mind as we'd feel better prepared with some definite items like this to make kids consider their work in a more efficient way.
Thank you very much for your post.
Valerie McIntyre

musiclover1 said...

This makes sense to me. At my school, however, I'm supposed to get 25% of my Year 9 up to at least level 7. So what would they have to do?!

Dom said...

Hi musiclover1, thanks for the comment. You must work in an amazing school to have to get so many students to level 7. I work in a very good school and out of 250 or so current year 9 students I can count on the fingers of one hand those who are expected to achieve level 7 by the end of KS3. I'd love to know who sets your targets and if those targeted level 7 really are likely to achieve that level.

Ms P said...

Really rate your blog. Had come up with similar as a dept. Everyone is level and FFT obsessed and to what end?