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Key Stage 3 Levels Explained

There has been much discussion about the revised Key Stage 3 Levels that were introduced this year and with half-termly reports being released next week, I would like to explain what our levels mean, and what you should be looking for as a parent.

What if my son/daughter is not currently on the highest level?

We don’t expect every Year 7 student to immediately achieve a Level 8. KS3 Levels are NOT like percentages, they indicate the skills within any given subject that your son/daughter is evidencing consistently in their work. Lower grades do not automatically equal lower performance; they simply mean that a student has not developed the skills required for the higher levels. For example, many of the Level 8 skills are equivalent to the skills that we would expect a student to develop for their iGCSE studies. In general, skills within a subject are learnt progressively and this is why the general pattern is that students make progress from a lower level to the higher levels over the course of the three years of study in Years 7-9.

What do the Levels tell me?

Students learn by building on prior knowledge, and this means that as a School, we start by teaching the essential knowledge, skills and understanding of the Key Stage 3 subjects, having mastered these, students are ready to progress onto the next, more demanding set of skills etc.

For example, in Mathematics, a Level 6 algebra skill is “They formulate and solve linear equations with whole-number coefficients”. However, this first requires students to acquire the Level 4 skill “They begin to use simple formulae expressed in words”.

So I hope you can see, a Level 4 in Maths is NOT a bad grade, it’s simply a starting point for many students.

If you have any specific questions on this topic, or suggestions for future topics please feel free to email me.


Ann Byrne

Deputy Head Teaching & Learning and School Improvemnet