Shareen has been a KS1 moderator for a decade and a KS2 writing moderator for 6 years. She is the lead moderator and moderation manager for a London LA.
Following the DfE’s response to the assessment consultation this September, we asked Shareen Mayers to share her thoughts on the changes to the teacher assessment framework for writing at key stages 1 and 2. If you’d like to share your thoughts, get in touch with us on @rsassessment.
- A more flexible approach to the assessment of writing.
It is important to clarify that the more flexible approach to writing does not apply to reading, mathematics or science. They are still assessed as a secure-fit and pupils need to secure all the statements. The more flexible approach also needs to be interpreted with caution. The DfE states, ‘A pupil’s writing should meet all the statements within the standard at which they are judged. However, teachers can use their discretion to ensure that, on occasion, a particular weakness does not prevent an accurate judgement being made of a pupil’s attainment overall. A teacher’s professional judgement about whether the pupil has met the standard overall takes precedence. This approach applies to English writing only.’ This flexibility has been welcomed by many teachers within the profession and has been seen as a sensible approach to writing assessment.
- Greater emphasis on composition
One of the biggest improvements to the new writing framework is the greater emphasis on composition, with the punctuation and grammar aspects being less prescriptive. This means less emphasis on exclamations, commands and expanded noun phrases at KS1 and hyphens, semi-colons and dashes at KS2 (expected standard). A salient point to note is that these are still in the national curriculum and are tested as part of the non-statutory KS1 grammar test and the statutory KS2 grammar test.
It was interesting that at KS2, there are references to having a good awareness of the reader and to the features of a particular text type, e.g. the use of first person in a diary and direct address in instructions.
This links appropriately to the non-statutory guidance in the English programmes of study which explicitly refers to the different types of writing.
- They should continue to learn the conventions of different types of writing, such as the use of the first person in writing diaries and autobiographies.
- Pupils should be taught the technical and other terms needed for discussing what they hear and read, such as metaphor, simile, analogy, imagery, style and effect.
- Updated exemplification materials will be available later in the autumn term
The exemplification materials are an integral aspect of the moderation process and help to exemplify key statements within the framework. The DfE have explained that these should be made available for writing later in the autumn term. This will be helpful in ascertaining and understanding the revised statements for writing at greater depth (KS2).
Updated frameworks in reading and mathematics at key stage 1, and science at key stages 1 and 2, will be introduced from the 2018 to 2019 academic year onwards.
- The DfE are exploring comparative judgement
During the primary consultation, schools and educational organisations were given the opportunity to comment on the future of writing moderation. A number of respondents said that the current system of local authority-led moderation should be continued. However, the DfE were encouraged by the pilot study run by No More Marking and will work with them to explore the potential of comparative judgement in the assessment system. There is also an acknowledgement that any changes would have to be proven to be robust and that schools would need to be supported with implementing any changes.
Key stage 1 specific information
- Questions, statements, exclamations and commands are not explicitly mentioned at KS1
With a greater emphasis on composition, it seems that the statements referring to question marks, exclamation marks, expanded noun phrases, contracted forms and suffixes have been removed from the expected standard and suffixes only appear in the greater depth statements. As an experienced KS1 moderator, I should mention that pupils are particularly good at writing expanded noun phrases! Of course, these aspects can still be taught, they just aren’t so prevalent in the new assessment framework.
- Proof-reading is new to the statement for greater depth writers at KS1
One of the newest aspects of the greater depth standard is the introduction of the requirement for pupils to make simple additions, revisions and proof-reading corrections to their own writing. To clarify, editing involves evaluating their writing, re-reading if it makes sense and proof-reading is used to check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation, for example, ends of sentences punctuated correctly. Please see my Teach Primary article where I unpick this in more detail.
Key stage 2 specific information
- Changes to greater depth writing
There have been significant adjustments to the greater depth writing statements at key stage 2. Firstly, it explicitly mentions that pupils can draw on what they have read as models for their own writing. This suggests a greater focus on the connection between reading and writing and could include literary language, characterisation and structure. Although teachers still taught figurative language, I am pleased to see this as part of the assessment framework. The quality of writing can be enhanced by the use of vivid descriptions and varying language structures.
Although ‘shifts in formality’ are no longer mentioned, pupils are still expected to distinguish between the language of speech and writing and to exercise assured and conscious control over levels of formality. The exemplification materials will no doubt help to unpick this statement in more detail.
- Less focus on grammar, punctuation and spelling
Notably, there are fewer bullet points focused on grammar, punctuation and spelling. The references to technical aspects have been either embedded within other statements (e.g. using passive verbs to affect how information is presented) or have been removed. Explicit mention of the following areas has been deleted: passive, modal verbs, adverbs, preposition phrases, expanded and noun phrases. The punctuation aspect referring to the ‘range of punctuation taught at KS2’ will need to be clarified and the focus on semi-colons, dashes, colons and hyphens have moved to the examples in the greater depth standard.
- Using a dictionary is explicitly mentioned
Just a couple of years ago, I remember that the mention of using a dictionary caused confusion across several schools and organisations. However, it is now mentioned as part of the assessment framework: ‘Spell correctly most words from the year 5/ year 6 list, and use a dictionary to check the spelling of uncommon or more ambitious vocabulary.’ I’m really pleased with this statement, as I spent most of my time last year explaining that pupils only have to spell rules from the national curriculum and not all words!
Looking for resources to support with writing assessment? Take a look at our Writing Tasks for Years 2 to 6.
About the author
Shareen Mayers is an experienced primary school teacher, and is currently a leading independent English and assessment adviser. Shareen is an experienced KS1 and KS2 moderator and is the moderation manager for a London LA. She advises at national level and is a DfE subject specialist for reading and grammar (KS1 and KS2) and has worked as a senior adviser to DfE on KS2 writing moderation, supporting the national moderator training. She is the former primary lead English adviser for a successful London LA. She is also an established educational author, writer and editor.