Shareen Mayers reveals why the new writing standard might not be as scary as we had expected …

After much anticipation, the long-awaited writing exemplification materials were published a few weeks ago. For some, the expectation of the materials seemed more like the equivalent of the old Level 5, and many teachers (but not all) were very anxious about this. I am hoping to put you at ease by demonstrating that the new standard might not be as high as Level 5. While the use of punctuation (e.g. semi-colons, brackets, etc) and some sentence structures are clearly Level 5, pupils need to use semi-colons in a list and not for two independent clauses to be at the expected standard. I am pleased about this because teaching the wider usage of semi-colons and expecting all pupils to use this in their writing is a real challenge.

Key issue

Within the writing exemplification collection of work, there are two examples of writing at the expected standard – Morgan and Leigh. The examples from Leigh have caused the most controversy because Leigh is clearly a borderline pupil. Leigh is using some aspects of the ‘greater depth’ standard but has too many gaps to be given that standard. However, Morgan isn’t working at the greater depth standard at all but is still being given exactly the same standard as Leigh. It is like comparing a good school and a good school with outstanding features – both are still ‘good’ schools.

Leigh is clearly demonstrating aspects of the greater depth standard. (Click on image below to enlarge).

Morgan isn’t really showing any of the greater depth ‘pupil can’ statements but is still working at the expected standard. (Click on image below to enlarge).

Perhaps we should be using Morgan (not Leigh) to make our judgements about what the expected standard is in writing so that we can at least have some sleep over the next few months. Spelling has a higher weighting than before and there are implications for workload but I will leave that debate for another day!

Written by Shareen Mayers

Shareen is an experienced primary teacher who is currently the Lead Primary English Adviser for Sutton Improvement and Support Services. She still regularly teaches in the classroom, especially in Years 5 and 6. Shareen is also a part of the Rising Stars Assessment Advisory Team and presented at the Risings Stars KS1 and KS2 National Tests Conferences.

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