Rationale for the AWL: non-negotiable milestones
In order for this new assessment criteria to work it requires a change of mind-set at all levels regarding assessment. Schools have the freedom to make professional judgements on how children learning the knowledge, skills and concepts within the National Curriculum. With this comes a big responsibility to ensure that at all levels it is being taught in a way that develops the whole child.
The non-negotiable milestones are not a replacement for levels. They are not a basis for planning or measuring steps in progress. The non-negotiable milestones are a summative expectation of what skills, knowledge and concepts the child should have by the end of the year. It is by no means the range, breadth or depth of what a child should be learning.
The changes in curriculum require that children are able to independently access the skills taught in year groups across a wide range of contexts. They are revisiting and deepening their understanding of what they have learnt, improving their ability to apply learning in as many different ways as possible.
Because teachers cannot push through a set of levels, they are free to help children master the full breadth of the curriculum for their year group, without fear of being penalised for a perceived lack of progress. The real progress will come through the freedom for children to learn in a range of contexts and ways. The progress will be evident and measurable in books and through the children themselves, not through a set of numbers.
This is not to say that challenge and high expectations have slipped. Once a child has mastered aspects of their year group’s curriculum and this is clearly evidenced, the teacher must push the child on to their next stage of learning. This will not be scored through a data package but will be the responsibility of the school to ensure that children are meeting their full potential, through clear and thorough checking systems.