Government to replace P-scales assessment with new approach


Pioneering approaches for measuring the attainment of school children with complex disabilities will replace P-scales from 2020, the government has revealed.

An ‘aspects of engagement’ approach will be used instead of P-scales 1 to 4, which are currently used to measure attainment of those working below the national curriculum level.

The new method is seen as an improvement as it seeks to address a focus on ‘linear progress’ – a factor highlighted by executive headteacher Diane Rochford following a review of the system in 2017.

An estimated 7,000 pupils at primary school level are currently assessed via the P-scales system, as their complex needs mean it is “inappropriate” to measure attainment using SATs testing.

The new methodology

Under the new methodology, the focus is placed on ‘seven aspects of engagement’ that relate to ability in specific areas such as anticipation, curiosity and responsiveness.

A Department for Education funded project, led by Professor Barry Carpenter, first assisted the development of the approach back in 2011.

Government officials have said the new method will support pupils with disabilities as it will “enable every kind of progress made by these pupils to be identified”.

‘A significant milestone’

Schools Minister Nick Gibb is hopeful that the refined approach can deliver results for pupils with very complex educational needs.

“This is a significant milestone in our drive to make sure every child – even those with the most complex needs – receives the highest standard of education and care,” he said.

“We have already introduced education health and care plans that are tailored to children. This new approach to assessment will make sure that individual-focused approach is replicated in the classroom.”

A review of the current system by Diane Rochford found that P-scales did not best serve pupils and she will now lead a new review in order to ‘refine’ how the approach will work.