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Attainment Levels Explained

From Year One in their school life, all children are assessed against the National Curriculum levels; children in Early Years (Nursery and Reception year) follow a different curriculum called the Early Years Foundation Stage.


The scope of work done in primary school, on the whole, can be assessed as level 1 to 4, and in some cases levels 5 and even 6. Each one of these levels is divided into three sublevels: c, b and a. As a child progresses through primary school they are expected to progress through the sublevels and are measured against targets set by the government for an ‘average’ pupil. 

All assessments recorded on your child’s report are called teacher assessments and therefore, rather than based on a one-off test, they are a true reflection of your child's attainment over a period of time.

Teachers assess how each child is progressing by measuring work against set criteria. This is done each term and helps to highlight any gaps that will inform the next terms learning. This data is also entered into a system used by Vicky to track progress across the school that is then shared with the governing body to help pinpoint areas to celebrate or improve.

What follows is a brief explanation of KS1 and KS2 levels and the tests your child will sit to help with assessing their level.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s levels or are worried about SATs or want to understand more please speak to your child’s teacher or ask for a meeting with Vicky.

At the bottom of the page you will find a link to a word document that covers the information below.

Key Stage 1 and 2

This is how the National Curriculum levels progress.


(P levels)W 1c 1b 1a 2c 2b 2a 3c 3b 3a 4c 4b 4a 5c 5b 5a 6c

 Lowest                                                                                      Highest


The National Curriculum levels go from W (for pupils working towards level 1) to level 4 in primary schools (some children may gain level 5 or rarely level 6). Where children are working below level 1 your child’s teacher will give them a W level. P levels are used to assess SEN children who are not working within the National Curriculum. The P levels go from P1 (lowest) to P8 (highest).


The table below shows which level ‘average’ children should be achieving in each year group. The letter beside the number is used to split each whole level up into three smaller sections to tell you exactly whereabouts your child attained within the whole level. For example Level 3a is a high level three, 3b is a secure level three and 3c is just in level three.




Key stage


Average level of attainment (end of Year)

3 to 4


Early years



4 to 5


Early years



5 to 6

Year 1


Phonics screening check


6 to 7

Year 2


Teacher assessments in English, maths and science


7 to 8

Year 3




8 to 9

Year 4




9 to 10

Year 5




10 to 11

Year 6


National tests and teacher assessments in English, Maths and Science



The expectation is that a child making satisfactory progress will move on three sublevels (one level) in each year at Key Stage One and six sublevels (two levels) across Key Stage Two.

This means that if your child is above average at the end of Year 2 (E.G. 3c) they should move up 6 sublevels by the time they finish at the school - 3b-3a-4c-4b-4a-5c. In this example by the time the pupil left Thurlow they should be a 5c.


Tests and assessments

Year 1 phonics screening check

The check will take place in June when your child will read 40 words out loud to a teacher. You’ll find out how your child did, and their teacher will assess whether he or she needs extra help with reading. If your child doesn’t do well enough in the check they’ll have to do it again in Year 2.

Key Stage 1

Key Stage 1 tasks and tests cover:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking and listening
  • maths
  • science

The tasks and tests are taken when the school chooses.

Your child’s teacher will use the child’s work (including spoken work and homework) to work out what level your child is at in each area.

You can ask for the results but they’re only used to help the teacher assess your child’s work.

Key Stage 2 (SATS)

Key Stage 2 tests cover:

  • English reading
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Maths (including mental arithmetic)

The tests are taken in mid-May and last under 5.5 hours in total. You’ll get the results in July. If your child is demonstrating higher achievement then the head teacher may put them in for extra tests.

When your child reaches the end of Key Stage 2 the teacher will also give reports on your child’s progress in English, Maths and Science.

Download this information here ----> Attainment Levels