What are the statutory requirements for assessment and accountability in Key Stages 3 and 4?

Changes in statutory assessment in secondary schools derive from a number of sources.  The removal of levels in the NC at Key Stage 2 affected transfer information after 2015-16.  In KS3 changes to the NC had an impact on tracking and reporting in the same way as at KS1-2, with schools needing to work in years 7-9 towards the end of KS3 outcomes.

For Key Stage 4, the DfE Secondary School Accountability Consultation in Feb 2013 which drew on the Wolf Report, stated: 2.2 “…the accountability system should be fair and transparent.  It should reward schools that set high expectations for the attainment and progress of all their pupils, provide high value qualifications, and teach a broad and a balanced curriculum.  The assessment and accountability systems should be the servant, not the master, of excellent teaching.  At the moment, the accountability system has too many perverse incentives and can distort teaching and narrow the curriculum.  The aim of the changes to assessment and accountability is to promote pupils’ deep understanding across a broad curriculum and maximise progress and attainment for all pupils.4.6 This approach (outlined in the consultation) provides a strong incentive for schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, including the academic core of the EBacc as appropriate, and to ensure high standards of teaching in a wide range of subjects.  This balance of measures should improve the current system by rewarding schools more clearly for their work with all their pupils.”

More recently, statutory assessment has been affected by coronavirus.  See Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college performance measures for current details of how this affects accountability measures.

Statutory assessment and accountability in Key Stages 3 and 4

September 2016 onwards

Year 7

In years not affected by coronavirus, pupils enter secondary school with reading and maths test results expressed as scaled scores and whether they have achieved the required standard on the test. From 2019 they also have Teacher Assessment in writing, stating which performance descriptor they were working at and, in science, stating whether they were working at the expected standard. Before 2019, they would also have had Teacher Assessments in reading and maths stating whether they were working at the expected standard. 

Assessments and reporting during year 7 are as for Y8 below.

Years 8-10

Ongoing formative teacher assessment/AfL (non-statutory).  Periodic progress checks (non-statutory).  Summative assessments against the end of year outcomes (non-statutory) or end of Key Stage outcomes (statutory). Reporting to parents (statutory)

By the end of key stage 3, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Year 11

Ongoing formative teacher assessment/AfL (non-statutory).  Periodic progress checks (non-statutory).  Summative assessments are GCSE and other qualifications.  Reporting to parents (statutory)

GCSE English and maths are based on the new NC from 2017. Grades 9-1: Grade 4 is a standard pass (equivalent to grade C) and should be accepted for employment or further study if Grade C was the previous requirement.  Grade 5 is a strong pass – the benchmark measure for school performance although grade 4 results will also be published.  

The GCSE factsheets for employers, HE and FE providers and for parents give further details and lists the dates 2017 to 2020 when the new exams were first held in different subjects. GCSE new grading scale: factsheets 

All students have to study science up to the age of 16. New science and computer science GCSEs (9 to 1) had the first examinations in summer 2018. 


Full details are contained in the above link.

See this link for details of what information schools must publish for KS4 results on their websites.  This also gives details of changes related to coronavirus.

Changes to calculations: Negative progress scores

We now limit how negative a pupil’s progress score can be when calculating the school average. These pupils still have large negative scores (to reflect that the pupils have made much less progress than other pupils in the same prior attainment group as them), but the disproportionate effect they have on a school’s score has been reduced.  

We do this by setting a minimum progress score that can be assigned to pupils within the prior attainment groups where extremely negative scores exist”.

                                                    Secondary Accountability Measures, February 2020, page 10

Changes to prior attainment measure from 2017

From 2017, a pupil’s prior attainment is defined as the average of their key stage 2 reading and mathematics results, in fine graded levels.  Writing results are not used.  See Secondary Accountability Measures - Calculating Attainment 8 and Progress 8 - page 14.

Prior attainment is based on KS2 levels of attainment and fine grades within levels until the 2016 Year 6 pupils reach the end of KS4.

Return to Assessment without levels: Assessment in the context of the National Curriculum