Reaching judgements at KS1 end

    Published: 13 April 2018

    At this time of year, schools often ask me to work with their Year 2 teachers to support teacher assessment and to help them identify next steps for their pupils.  Through this work and my work with our assessment team and other KS1 moderators, I have gained quite an insight into some of the challenges of teacher assessment in KS1 maths and thought it might be useful to share some of my thoughts.

    I will start by saying – end of key stage teacher assessment can feel hard.  You want to get it right and you can feel like the burden is all yours.  It is important to make sure you have all the information that you need and to seek support from your school so that you feel fully prepared to make judgements.  I would urge schools to participate in wider discussion both within and where possible across schools, both to support our Year 2 colleagues to ensure accuracy and rigour in teacher assessments and to support professional development for teachers in other year groups.

    So what advice do I give to Year 2 teachers?

    Know the expectations for KS1 Maths Teacher Assessment

    Firstly, we talk about expectations for teacher assessment.I clarify that teachers must make a judgement against the KS1 Teacher Assessment Framework (TAF) for maths by Thursday 28th June 2018.  The framework focuses on certain key aspects of maths and “they do not cover all of the content of the national curriculum." Inevitably, there is then some talk about the statutory tests, which schools must administer any time during May 2018 and which “must be used to inform teacher assessment judgement'.  I reinforce that teacher assessment judgements are “informed” by the test, but that they are not made based on the number of marks a pupils achieves in the test.  Sometimes teachers then express concern about where they should focus – on the test or on the TAF.

    t is clearly stated that the TAFs are not a formative assessment tool: they are not intended to guide individual programmes of studyand my advice is that teachers should be planning and teaching based on the objectives outlined in the Year 2 Programme of Study for maths.  This will enable pupils to have the best chance possible to achieve on the statutory test and enable teachers to base their teacher assessment judgements “on a broad range of evidence, which will come from day-to-day work in the classroom.

    That doesn’t mean to say that we don’t want to be clear about what is included in the TAFs but there should be plenty of naturally occurring opportunities for teacher assessment against these standards across the year as they are key aspects of Year 2 maths.   

    Know the Teacher Assessment Framework (TAF)

    So next, we spend time really getting to know the maths TAF.  Teachers are usually clear that in order to judge a pupil as working at a particular standard in maths, they need to have evidence that the pupils meets all of the ‘pupil can’ statements within that standard and that leads us into unpicking those statements.  I often find that teachers really benefit from a deeper look at the ‘pupil can’ statements, considering what they mean and how they might look when present in pupils’ learning.  The KS1 TAF for maths for use in the 2017 to 2018 academic year has not changed from 2016 to 2017 version but some details within statements need drawing out.  The most frequently overlooked, is the words “different combinations of tens and ones” in the statement - “partition two-digit numbers into different combinations of tens and ones.”  I think teachers are so used to traditional connotations of partitioning into tens and ones, that they don’t see the extra words and I often find myself exploring this a little further with teachers and identifying how crucial this skill is in pupils’ calculation strategies later.  My go to image to exemplify this comes from learning sequence 2LS3 in ESSENTIALmaths.


    See the progression between TAF standards

    When considering the standards, I often spend time with teachers looking at the progression between standards, as this draws out the difference between pupils working at different levels and supports identification of next teaching steps.  For example, if we look in the standards at the progression in pupil learning multiplication facts.  The relevant statements are:

    Working towards the expected standard (WTS)

    • Count in twos, fives and tens from 0 and use counting strategies to solve problems

    Working at the expected standard (EXS)

    • Recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables to solve problems, demonstrating an understanding of commutativity as necessary

    Working at greater depth (GDS)

    • Use multiplication facts to make deductions outside known multiplication facts

    There is a clear progression between pupils using counting strategies at WTS, recalling, understanding and applying multiplication and division facts at EXS and then deducing beyond known multiplication facts at GDS.  In fact, I often share with teachers how pupils at WTS are often reliant on counting strategies and GDS is characterised by increasing ability to independently reason, deduce and deal with complexity.  This is clarified and covered in much more detail in a blog by my colleague, Rachel Rayner, which can be found at

    Know where the evidence is

    Once we have looked closely at the TAF statements, discussion often turns to evidence.  On this question, I refer to the 2018 teacher assessment guidance, which clearly states that “While the teacher’s knowledge of pupils can inform judgements, these must be based on sound and demonstrable evidence." Although, I quickly follow this up with… “Specific evidence does not need to be ‘produced’; what pupils can do should be evident in their work." Once again, we return to the need for teachers to be teaching the programme of study for Year 2 with full understanding of its content.

    I understand that what teachers generally want is to be sure themselves that they are making the right judgement.  To support this, I advise teachers that they consider when they taught the key areas of learning in the TAF and we look at books, we discuss pupil approaches and we consider further questions that we might like to ask to find out where pupils are now and to move them forwards.  In addition, we often look at the KS1 exemplification materials which can be found at and which can be used to support teachers making judgements.  I am always careful to explain that there is no necessity to use these, but that they do sometimes provide helpful examples of how other teachers have made their judgements.

    When considering evidence that teachers need to support making their teacher assessment there are a number of issues that tend to arise.  The first of these is independence.

    What can pupils do independently?  Sometimes, when we look at books, we notice that adults support a pupil or pupils during most maths sessions.  On other occasions, teachers are shocked at what pupils appear to be able to do and then remember that this work had been completed as part of a guided teaching group.  In both instances, I advise that it is important to know how much was independent and that a quick symbol in the book might take the pressure off teacher memories!

    Another issue, which can arise, is around knowing which strategy or approach that pupils used to answer a question.  Let me explain what I mean with an example.

    The excerpt below is from the WTS exemplification document for the statement - Count in twos, fives and tens from 0 and use counting strategies to solve problems.


    The pupil was able to identify that this was 4 rows of 5 and that the total was 20 and it is only from looking further on in the context that you can see that this child is WTS.


    Similarly, in the next example for the same statement, consider how we know that this pupil is WTS. 


    I always advise that it is important to get pupils to record their mathematical thinking as it is part of them developing deeper understanding and as shown above it can be helpful for the teacher too!

    It is clear that the same activity could provide evidence of children working at different standards, so I advise teachers to consider how to make the most of this.  For example, the set of calculations below is from ESSENTIALmaths learning sequence 2LS34 and could easily be used to support teacher assessment against all of the different standards.


    What would you expect for WTS? Counting strategies to solve the calculations.What would you expect for EXS?  Recall of multiplication facts to answer many of the calculations and understanding of commutativity so that 5 x 12 is that same as 12 x 5.What would you expect for GDS?  Recall of facts, understanding of commutativity and ability to reason beyond known facts, for example identifying that you can work out 6 x 3 using 5 x 3 + 3.

    The final issue that we often talk about is pupils who are not operating within any of the standards in the TAF.  Here my advice is that teachers need to look at the Interim pre-key stage 1 standards ( for those pupils below WTS.  The pre-key stage standards again provide ‘pupil can’ statements and some exemplification in terms of the kinds of calculations that would indicate a child working at this level.  In my experience, looking carefully at these statements has been very useful in supporting teachers to plan to meet the needs of these pupils.

    For pupils who are working below the interim pre-key stage standards and have special educational needs, P scales ( should be used to report a statutory assessment outcome when they have reached the end of year 2, although this will change next year when new pre-key stage standards are introduced.

    My final thoughts return to points already made:

    Remember that teacher assessment is a natural part of the teaching cycle and that “evidence to inform statutory teacher assessment should come from the teaching of the knowledge and skills specified in the national curriculum” so you should not be doing anything additional.  “Pupils meeting the different standards within the frameworks will have a broader range of knowledge and skills than those being assessed” so in order to make your judgement you need to know where your evidence is.

    Herts for Learning Primary Maths Team are about to produce a useful document matching current TAF standards to where in ESSENTIALmaths the evidence can be found.  Watch this space...closely.


    Teacher Assessment Frameworks at the End of Key Stage 1; For use in the 2017 to 2018  academic year, Standards and Testing Agency, 2017

    Contact details

    Latest blogs

    Receive our latest posts direct to your inbox...