Broad baseline assessments are fundamental as you change from one curriculum model to another (for example, from the National Curriculum (NC) to an Equals based Semi-Formal Curriculum) and of course for any new intake whenever they first join the school. As such there are three processes I would suggest you go through. The first is fairly simple, the second, slightly more complicated but quick, and the third will relate directly to the individual learner’s EHCP.

1. Look at the Pre-Key Stage Standards, but specifically Standard 6 at KS 2 in English Reading, English Writing and Mathematics. These are the average levels achieved by neuro-typical, conventionally developing 7 year olds i.e. the level achieved at the end KS1 and tested through the KS1 SATs. In order to justify continuing with an academic curriculum model (such as the NC) Individual learners should be able to know all of the levels without prompting or support, or at least make a pretty good fist of them. The slight complication relates to the chronological age of the children you’re baselining, because you don’t want to give up on the potential of achieving fluency in literacy and/or numeracy too early. However, if your primary pupils have not reached these levels by the time their 8 or 9, alarm bells ought to be ringing; if they haven’t reached them by the end of KS2, the alarm bells ought to be deafening. There is absolutely no research to indicate the children with SLD become adults without SLD – quite the opposite. All of the research indicates neuro-typical 7 year olds will attain a sufficient level of literacy and numeracy fluency by the age of 11. All of the research evidence indicates that those with PMLD and SLD will not achieve that level of fluency, though of course all may still achieve functionality. However, one doesn’t need number to be able to discern functional quantity (one £1 coin, one £5 note, one £10 note, one cup of flour, one slice of toast, one small loaf of bread etc etc.) and one doesn’t need phonics to read key functional words – everyone knows McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s without decoding – or become a functional communicator.  

This level of baselining therefore justifies a non NC approach, since it is impossible to teach the NC if your learners are neither literate nor numerate. If learners are not achieving, and in your collective, multi-disciplinary, professional and specialist view, are highly unlikely ever to achieve the levels averagely attained by neuro-typical 7 year olds, there is no point in constantly teaching your learners to constantly fail. Your efforts should instead be concentrated on maximising functionality across a wide range of areas (the schemes of work or ‘subjects’ of for example, the Semi-Formal Curriculum) rather than achieving literacy and numeracy fluency.

2. The second baselining determines the broad curriculum pathway relevant for each individual learner. This is more complicated because the only logical way of doing this is through the P Scales, and your newer teachers won’t know them. Such assessments do not have to be precise, because they are broad measurements, so that your PMLD learners (P1 to P3) will be working broadly within the Pre-Formal Curriculum, your CLD (Complex Learning Difficulties and P4/P5) learners will be working broadly within the Informal Curriculum and your SLD learners (P6+) will be working broadly within the Semi-Formal Curriculum. It might be logical to repeat this annually, but this process should only take minutes (at most) for each learner in that it will be a confirmation through a broad multi-disciplinary collective assessment that the individual learner will be working on x curriculum pathway for the next academic year.

3. A simple, annual, baseline assessment using Routes (or Quest) for Learning for your PMLD cohort, or MAPP for your SLD cohort related broadly to the EHCP long term outcomes will help to inform stakeholders (parents, governors, Ofsted) that continuity of teaching and learning is being considered. This is a particularly troublesome area for Ofsted who will be denied the structured and linear familiarity of the National Curriculum and will need some ‘guidance’, especially when faced with process based curriculum models such as the various Equals curricula. When doing a deep dive into Maths in a mainstream primary school, Ofsted will pick a learner who might for example, be working on place value in the discrete Maths sessions and correct sentence structure in discrete English writing sessions, and will want to track other topic based sessions to ensure that such work is being re-enforced. Continuity within a non-linear curriculum model is however, not straightforward, so much work needs to be done with the EHCP outcomes so that they broadly relate to an agreed understanding of what each learner might be able to do and might be able to be, by the time s/he is 19. That is, your EHCP outcomes must be broad not specific, and certainly not SMART. I’m thinking of setting up an Equals Zoom twilight on ‘EHCP Outcomes in a non National Curriculum Model’ because this is an issue quite a number of schools have a problem with. No doubt Paul at Equals will keep you posted.

Peter Imray

20th September 2022

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