We asked Shareen Mayers to share her personal views on what the new KS2 writing teacher assessment framework means for schools, and to highlight some of the salient points. Please note that this guidance relates to KS2 writing only.

Please see Shareen’s previous article for a summary of the key changes to writing, including a greater focus on composition.

1.  It is not a ‘best fit’ model but they can have a ‘particular weakness.’

The new teacher assessment framework is not a ‘best fit’ model. Pupils should meet all of the pupil can statements.

‘A more flexible approach – teachers can now use their discretion to ensure that, on occasion, a particular weakness does not prevent an accurate judgement of a pupil’s overall attainment being made.’ – 2018 teacher assessment guidance, p.5

Taken from Dani KS2 working towards the expected standard – national exemplification materials, p.19


Dani is able to spell the words from the year 3/ year 4 spelling list and the year 5/year 6 spelling list but has a weakness for some KS1 words, such as ‘went’ spelled as ‘whent’. Interestingly, Dani is not always able to make phonically plausible attempts at words. Dani is learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) and this is the reason why Dani may have missed out on earlier phonics teaching. Evidently, this is not a gap (e.g. Dani cannot spell at all), Dani can still spell but has a weakness within this statement.

The information above is taken from Dani KS2 working towards the expected standard – national exemplification materials, p. 7.

For some statements, they either meet the pupil can statement or they do not. For example, pupils are required to write narratives and to write for a range of purposes. If they do not have this evidence, then this is a weakness in teaching rather than of the pupil ability.

For further examples and scenarios of a ‘particular weakness,’ please see the national KS2 writing moderation materials available to all schools to download via NCA tools (see links below).


Learning difficulties

From reading the statutory STA guidance and watching the STA webinars, pupils with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia still need to meet the spelling and handwriting statements. However, they can have a particular weakness in this area and the scenarios for this are made explicit in the KS2 national writing moderator training, available to all schools on NCA tools (see Wendy, p.5).

‘A particular weakness may well relate to a specific learning difficulty, but it is not limited to this. In addition, a specific learning difficulty does not automatically constitute a particular weakness which would prevent an accurate judgement. The same overall standard must be applied equally to all pupils.’  2018 teacher assessment guidance: key stage 2, p. 13


2.  Pupils need to spell the ‘actual’ words from the year3/4 and year 5/6 statutory word list.

Importantly, pupils are required to spell the ‘actual’ words from the statutory word list, unlike the focus on the spelling rules last year. Spelling evidence can come from their books or from a spelling test but where pupils have used them, they must be spelt mostly correctly to meet the expected standard. If there is absolutely no evidence (from a spelling test or in their writing) then they will not meet this ‘pupil can’ statement. This relates to KS2 writing only.

In my opinion, the best way to teach the statutory word list is to teach them alongside the spelling rules and/or to group them by rule/pattern.


Further resources:

Rising Stars New Curriculum Spelling Test – this includes the spelling rules and the statutory word lists grouped by rule where possible.

Rising Stars Spelling


3.  Not all writing will be independent.

Interestingly, the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) have produced some guidance on what independent work should look like. However, there seems to be a misconception that this applies to ‘all’ writing. A pertinent point to note is that teachers will, of course, model writing; teach key grammar and punctuation skills and correct pupils’ spellings. How will they learn how to do this for themselves without it being modelled first? Notably, pupils then need to demonstrate their writing skills across a range of purposes, and for these pieces, pupils can edit and proof-read their work for themselves, without direct intervention from their teacher or support staff. They can discuss and rehearse what is being written about; this can be the result of a whole class stimulus, e.g. a text, topic or curriculum experience.

‘Pupils’ writing upon which teachers base their judgements must be produced independently. The national curriculum is clear that writing should also be produced through discussion with the teacher and peers.’

‘A piece of writing may provide evidence of a pupil demonstrating some ‘pupil can’ statements independently, but not others. For example, a pupil may produce an independent piece of writing which meets many of the statements relating to composition and the use of grammar, but they did not demonstrate independent spelling where the teacher has provided the pupil with domain specific words or corrected their spelling. This does not mean that the entire piece is not independent.’  Taken from the 2018 KS2 teacher assessment guidance, p. 13


Writing is likely to be independent if it:

• emerges from a text, topic, visit, or curriculum experience in which pupils have had opportunities to discuss and rehearse what is to be written about

• enables pupils to use their own ideas and provides them with an element of choice, for example writing from the perspective of a character they have chosen themselves

• has been edited, if required, by the pupil without the support of the teacher, although this may be in response to self, peer, or group evaluation

• is produced by pupils who have, if required, sought out classroom resources, such as dictionaries or thesauruses, without prompting to do so by the teacher

Writing is not independent if it has been:

• modelled or heavily scaffolded

• copied or paraphrased

• edited as a result of direct intervention by a teacher or other adult, for example when the pupil has been directed to change specific words for greater impact, where incorrect or omitted punctuation has been indicated, or when incorrectly spelt words have been identified by an adult for the pupil to correct

• produced with the support of electronic aids that automatically provide correct spelling, synonyms, punctuation, or predictive text

• supported by detailed success criteria that specifically direct pupils as to what to include, or where to include it, in their writing, such as directing them to include specific vocabulary, grammatical features, or punctuation

Taken from the 2018 KS2 teacher assessment guidance, p. 14


4.  Teachers can use learning objectives and success criteria as long as it is not over-detailed.

Teachers can use learning objectives and success criteria to support pupils with their writing. Even if a teacher has used over-detailed success criteria, the writing can still be used to assess over areas, e.g. spelling.

 ‘Teachers may choose to use success criteria in lessons to help pupils to understand what they have learnt and help them to judge whether a pupil has met the objectives for a piece of writing. Using success criteria does not mean that a pupil’s writing is not independent; they would simply need to avoid modelling or over-scaffolding the expected outcome. Furthermore, using detailed success criteria as a teaching tool for one aspect of writing could still provide independent evidence of other ‘pupil can’ statements which have not been mentioned.’ – Taken from the STA 2018 teacher assessment guidance, p.13-14

 Over-detailed success criteria specifically direct pupils as to what to include, or where to include it, in their writing, such as directing them to include specific vocabulary, grammatical features, or punctuation.

For example:

I have started my sentence with Anxiously or Cautiously.


5.  The requirement is now for joined handwriting to meet the expected standard.

Last year, the statements relating to handwriting could be disregarded. However, this year, pupils are required to demonstrate joined handwriting to meet the expected and greater depth standard. They can have a particular weakness but not a gap in handwriting so I would recommend that schools read the scenarios available as part of the national KS2 writing moderation training on NCA tools (see Emmie, p.6).


6.  Teaching composition has a greater emphasis.

Interestingly, the emphasis on coherence within the KS1 and KS2 writing assessments is crucial for schools to understand. Pupils are still expected to apply their grammar and punctuation to the context of their writing. The statements are less prescriptive but they are still there within the composition aspect. For example, pupils might use imperative verbs in instructions, the passive voice in non-fiction writing or modal verbs in persuasive writing.

Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.’ – Taken from the English programmes of study.


Essential publications

2018 teacher assessment guidance: key stage 2

2018 writing exemplification materials

2018 KS2 national writing moderator training – Available for all schools to download via NCA tools



Shareen Mayers (@ShareenMayers)

Independent English/assessment adviser and KS1 and KS2 moderation manager for a London LA.

Shareen is the author of the Rising Stars KS2 Spelling Test books as well as many other educational books for teachers and pupils. Additionally, Shareen will be co-authoring the new Rising Stars Achieve Reading revision and practice books. Look out for them at the end of the summer term!