NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA: What are the differences?


After talking and listening to teachers, like you, about how we can help to make your life a little easier whilst providing insightful performance and progress data and familiarising pupils with the SATs, we are very pleased to launch NTS Assessments: our brand new termly, standardised, National Test-style progress tests for Years 1 to 6. As excitement builds for NTS Assessments (National Test-style Standardised Assessments), many of you are asking about the differences between these new papers and our popular existing standardised tests: PiRA and PUMA. We’ve written this article to help answer your questions.

What are the similarities between NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA?

NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA are all standardised termly progress tests written to the 2014 National Curriculum. With all suites, you can use gap analysis to inform teaching and learning and track progress using standardised scores, age-standardised scores, maths ages, reading ages and the Hodder Scale score. What’s more, you can predict future performance and benchmark against national averages. Even better, all tests come with free access to MARK, our online assessment and reporting tool.

What are the differences between NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA?

PiRA and PUMA have been developed to assess progress in curriculum learning and do so effectively with a single paper per term. NTS Assessments also serve this purpose, but have been written by SATs authors to the National Test framework. This means that every individual booklet reflects the look and feel of the SATs exactly and are ideal for familiarising children with this style of assessment. This is the key difference both in the purpose of the tests, and how they look.

You may wish to administer your assessments interactively: PiRA and PUMA offer this option, with auto-marking to save you time. NTS Assessments, on the other hand, are not available online. They come in paper format only. This is because one of their key purposes is to reflect the SATs papers.

It’s your decision!

We know that many customers will value this termly exposure to SATs-style content, but equally appreciate that a close reflection of National Test-style is not crucial for everyone. By publishing both of these sets of assessments, we are providing you with a choice and enabling you to access whichever style of paper works best for your school and, crucially, your pupils.


Feature of PiRA and PUMA Feature of NTS Assessments
Format (all supported by MARK, our free online assessment and reporting tool) Available in print or digital format with auto-marking Available in print format only, to reflect the National Tests
Content and test frameworks Reflects the content of the national curriculum and National Tests Reflects the content and style of the National Tests, with all questions written to the National Test frameworks
Purpose Ideal for schools looking for pupil-friendly tests that provide high-quality termly analysis and tracking Ideal for schools looking for pupil-friendly tests that are slightly more demanding and increase preparation for National Tests, with high-quality termly analysis and tracking
Mark schemes In-depth, slightly shorter, easy-to-use mark schemes In-depth, slightly longer, easy-to-use mark schemes, written in the style of the National Tests marking guidance
School type Ideal for all-through schools, as both primary and secondary tests are available Ideal for use in primary schools only
Ages Tests from Reception to Year 9 Tests from Year 1 to Year 6
Booklet structure All elements of each test are provided in one booklet per term (all reading texts can be pulled out of the middle of the booklet) Test papers reflect the National Test structure with separate reading booklets, separate reasoning / arithmetic booklets and separate KS1 paper booklets
Written by trusted    experts Written by experienced curriculum experts and trusted by thousands of schools, now in their 2nd and 3rd editions Written by experts in National Test development, with experience teaching, writing and marking the SATs


Find out more about NTS Assessments or speak to one of our customer representatives

Our new partnership with Groupcall Analytics makes GAPS, PiRA and PUMA data integration easier than ever before

Our new partnership with Groupcall Analytics

We are pleased to announce our new partnership with Groupcall Analytics, which will benefit GAPS, PiRA and PUMA customers using MARK, our free online assessment and reporting tool. This partnership with Groupcall Analytics will provide our customers with a time-saving solution for MIS data integration, providing increased options for enhanced data analysis. This means that your school/MAT will be able to:

  • Automatically sync results from GAPS, PiRA and PUMA tests back to Groupcall Analytics, enabling stakeholders to get an aggregated view of results across all schools
  • Allow senior leaders in academies and MATs to use Groupcall Analytics to spot key trends and make more meaningful decisions based on their GAPS, PiRA and PUMA data
  • Automatically sync pupil data directly from your MIS to MARK, with no need for data downloads and uploads

Who are Groupcall Analytics?

Groupcall Analytics, which is built on Microsoft PowerBI, gives MATs the ability to turn their core data into a more valuable resource to fully visualise trends in many aspects of school life and make better decisions – as well as more timely interventions.

Launched in 2001, Groupcall Analytics provides data, communication, analytics and management solutions to schools, local authorities and multi-academy trusts, with products in over 20,000 U.K. schools. Groupcall Analytics has launched a number of award-winning products that increase attendance, improve child safety, enhance parental engagement and support senior leaders in getting more value from their data. Groupcall technology also powers the Child Rescue Alert system in the UK.

GAPS, PiRA and PUMA – a summary

Our standardised termly tests, GAPS (Progress in Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Assessment), PiRA (Progress in Reading Assessment) and PUMA (Progress in Understanding Mathematics Assessment), are a key component for many primary school stakeholders: they help track pupils’ progress and benchmark performance against age-related expectations. Standardised with thousands of pupils across the country, the results provide accurate diagnostic and predictive information. Increasingly, MATs (Multi Academy Trusts) are finding that the test results provide a crucial piece of evidence to support school improvement across their groups of schools. The free online reporting and analysis tool, MARK (My Assessment and Reporting Kit), plays an important role in saving teachers and leaders time in quickly analysing test results at a school level.

Comments on the integration

Katie Blainey, our Publishing Director, is very “excited by our partnership with Groupcall, which will both save schools time syncing their pupil data with MARK and enable results of our popular GAPS, PiRA and PUMA standardised test scores to be analysed alongside a broader dataset to support leaders to make informed decisions.” Adrian Bantin, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Groupcall, is equally as enthused. He commented that “bringing GAPS, PiRA and PUMA standardised test results into Groupcall Analytics adds even further insight that MAT leaders can leverage to help them make data-driven decisions to deliver the best outcomes for their learners.”


To join in the excitement, ensure to follow us on Twitter and, whilst you’re doing so, look out for Groupcall! To find out more, please email marketing@rsassessment.co.uk. We’d love to hear from you. 

The Power of Pairs

Consolidating and extending learning opportunities with peer partner work in the classroom

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth, Year 6 teacher and Writing Lead, and Kate Sanghera, Year 6 teacher and Science lead, from Christchurch CE Primary School for the following article.

Some assessments focusing on pupils’ ability to ‘speak and listen’ effectively have diminished recently – especially with the reduction in teacher assessments required to be reported at the end of key stage two.  This should not mean, however, that we begin to lose sight of the valuable contribution which paired oral language opportunities, work tasks and challenges, as well as peer assessments can make in both consolidating and moving on children’s learning.  The benefits of mixed-ability paired groupings can be particularly effective for all learners.

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New partnership between our standardised tests and Arbor’s cloud-based MIS

We are delighted to announce the new partnership between our standardised tests for primary schools and Arbor’s cloud-based MIS for schools & MATs.

Our standardised tests for primary schools

Our standardised tests, PiRA and PUMA, are a key component of many primary school improvement strategies, helping key stakeholders to track pupils’ in-year progress and benchmark against age-related expectations.

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The effects of age, gender and school type of primary maths and reading attainment

From Katie Blainey, Publishing Director, RS Assessment from Hodder Education

Thousands of primary schools are now using PiRA and PUMA to get rich termly data that highlights pupils’ strengths and weaknesses, which helps support tailored teaching and learning throughout primary school years. In the last few years MARK (My Assessment and Reporting Kit) has become an increasingly popular support for schools to enter their test results and quickly analyse data for pupils, classes and the whole school. As the number of results in the MARK database increased we wanted to see if any trends were emerging at an aggregated level, as we know large data sets of this size are rare.

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Challenging ‘Behaviour Policies’: Misunderstood, inappropriate and unfair

I believe that proper assessment would reveal that these children have a range of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) problems that are the real cause of their misbehaviours.

Thanks to Rob Long, educational psychologist and author of SNAP-B, for the following article.

Recently I attended a meeting on school exclusions where clear evidence was presented which highlighted there are certain ‘at risk’ groups that are more likely to be excluded. For me this reinforced the article I had read by J O’Brian in which he suggested that there is a systemic bias in the education system against certain ethnic groups.

With this thought in mind I began to wonder if there is a similar bias to explain why children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) or Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP) statements are also a vulnerable group to being excluded as the data suggests that they are higher than other non-disabled groups on exclusions.

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SENCO or Superhero – how on earth can any one person even start to do it all?

At first glance, the key issues related to SEN support and provision seem overwhelming. It gets worse at second glance, and the third … Small wonder so many schools find recruitment so hard for this role.

Thanks to Charles Weedon, educational psychologist and author of Special Needs Assessment Profile (SNAP) SpLD and SNAP-B, for the following article.

Who are they, who should they be?

The SENCO is the only role in a school that must be a qualified teacher and have a post-graduate qualification (unless they were in post before 1 September 2009). As a SENCO, you’re responsible for some of the most challenging pupils in a school – at the same time you’re at the confluence, the crunch point, for an ever-increasing barrage of expectations and demands.

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The most common SpLDs found in the classroom: How identification and intervention can remove barriers to learning

By identifying and minimising the barriers to learning, the child can feel more comfortable in the learning situation and will usually respond more effectively to the intervention offered.

Thanks to Gavin Reid, educational psychologist and author of Special Needs Assessment Profile (SNAP) SpLD, for the following article.


Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs)

In every classroom in every school there will be a considerable number of children experiencing some form of specific learning difficulty. These can include: literacy difficulties (dyslexia), movement and coordination issues (dyspraxia), numeracy problems (dyscalculia), handwriting issues (dysgraphia), speech and language problems (Specific Language Impairment) and auditory processing difficulties (APD).

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Ofsted and the 2019 Framework: Paradigm Shift or Cosmetic Respray?

In September 2019, the Ofsted inspection framework will change, but what does that mean for assessment?

Thanks to John Dabell, trained teacher and former Ofsted inspector, for the following article.

Although work is ongoing, and Ofsted is still preparing for the 2019 changes, there are some signs we can draw on which help shed some light on what the future holds.

Ofsted strategy: 2017-2022

Ofsted reminds us in it 2017-2022 strategy that everything it does is first and foremost to champion the interests of children and students, acting as a ‘force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation.’  It also tells us that it is nimble and adaptable to change and does not have preferred styles of teaching. Continue reading →

How we use light-touch, formative assessment throughout the year

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth, Year 6 teacher, for the following article.

The most effective teachers not only refine starting points, but also make regular adjustments to planning during the learning journey.

As the new term starts and classroom timetables settle down to ‘real’ lessons, it is easy to roll with the planning as it is – especially if you’re teaching in the same year group as last year. It’s comfortable to start with the same topics, for example reading and exploring a novel you’re familiar with, often teaching virtually the same lessons all over again.

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