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Kent SACRE Interim statement on Assessment of Religious Education

As part of the reforms to the national curriculum, using levels in assessing pupils’ progress was removed from the curriculum in 2015.

The removal of levels was to “allow teachers greater flexibility in the way that they plan and assess pupils’ learning. Instead the new National Curriculum sets out expectations for the end of each Key Stage” (see DfE, ‘National Curriculum and assessment from September 2014: information for schools’).

However, Religious Education (RE) is not a part of the National Curriculum. The locally agreed syllabus remains a statutory requirement for community and voluntary controlled schools as part of the ‘Basic Curriculum’. Church of England voluntary aided schools in our area also use the locally agreed syllabus with additional advice provided by the relevant dioceses. Academies must continue to provide RE under their funding agreement.

Our current RE syllabus, “REact” (2012) includes the use of levels. The Kent syllabus is due to be reviewed in the near future, and it is expected that there will be new assessment guidelines set to begin in September 2018. In the meantime, some schools are developing their own approaches to monitoring pupil progress.

Kent SACRE Agreed Syllabus Review - Project Plan 2016-17 (DOCX, 16.0 KB)

A recent ‘National Association of Head Teachers’ report on assessment commended models of assessment that involved teachers in making simple judgements about whether pupils were ‘exploring’, ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ targeted levels of knowledge and understanding. An alternative way of expressing this is in the 3 ‘e’s of ‘emerging - expected - exceeding’, or the 3 ‘w’s of ‘working towards’, ‘working at’ or working beyond’.

This model could be used in a fairly straightforward way by using the ‘learning outcomes’ linked below as staging posts or benchmarks for making such assessments.

For example, to give feedback on a pupil’s progress in their understanding of Christianity at the end of Key Stage 1, a task may be set for pupils to show that they can recall the key features of the Easter story (such as a picture-sort exercise). The teacher needs to evaluate how well pupils have responded to the task; and to make a judgement about whether each pupil’s response meets the expectation that they can ‘recall the key features of the Easter story’. If the work is judged almost to reach that standard their response may be judged as ‘emerging’ or ‘working towards’; if it not only meets, but goes beyond the expectation, then it may be judged as ‘exceeding’ or ‘working beyond’ the expectation.

The existing eight levels of attainment in the Kent Agreed Syllabus (2012) provide a basis for making judgements about pupil performance within and at the end of key stages. The assessment guidance shows the range of levels appropriate for each key stage, and the expected level of attainment for most pupils by the end of each key stage

Kent SACRE recommends that as an interim arrangement, schools can report on pupil progress and attainment by making judgements as to whether pupils are ‘working towards’, ‘working at’ or working beyond’ (or similar) learning outcomes appropriate to their Key Stage and to the topic, aspect or theme of Religious Education currently being studied.

 Range of levels within which the great majority of pupils are expected to workExpected attainment for the majority of pupils at the end of the key stageExample end of Key Stage Learning Outcome
Key Stage 1Levels 1 - 3At age 7 - Level 2

Can you suggest a meaning to each story, symbol or image?

Can you ask questions about other people’s experiences and feelings?

Key Stage 2Levels 2 - 5At age 11 - Level 4

Can you describe in detail, using correct religious words and phrases, key features of a religion?

Can you describe who or what is important to you and other people?

Key Stage 3Levels 3 - 7At age 14 - Level 5 or 6

Can you apply religious beliefs and teachings to specific ethical and ultimate questions, giving an informed explanation using religious and philosophical words?

Can you express your view clearly, with detailed reasons and evidence, on an issue or ultimate question?

The key requirement is that schools continue to provide feedback to pupils and parents on how well pupils are doing in RE and what they must do next to make progress.