New Key Stage 3 Curriculum

Over the last few years there has been a great deal of change to the curriculum in secondary schools. This has affected Key Stage Three, GCSE and A Levels courses.

From this academic year we will be using a new assessment criteria in all subjects across KS3. We will use the criteria and scales based on the new reformed GCSEs to replace the old National Curriculum criteria and levels.  However, in KS3 we will differentiate the criteria so that it is appropriate for students in Years 7, 8 and 9.  As our students will not actually be taking or achieving GCSEs in KS3 we will be calling the new scale ‘Steps’.  For KS4 students, we will continue to refer to Grades for GCSE.

The numbers you will see on the tracking reports will represent a student’s current attainment using ‘Steps’ 1 to 9, 9 being the highest grade.  We have also introduced two grades lower than a grade 1, Working Towards 1 and Working Towards 2, for students whose current attainment is below the criteria for ‘Step 1’. The ‘Steps’ will look as shown here:

Target setting will be based on a student’s KS2 score from primary school and an estimate of their potential in Year 11 based on external data.  Targets will then be set each year in KS3 to challenge and engage students but also to ensure they are making the incremental progress to allow them to reach their potential at GCSE.

By basing our KS3 assessment criteria on the reformed GCSE scale we are looking to provide continuity from KS3 to KS4 and to better support students’ progress.  The new ‘Steps’ will support how we monitor a student’s progress as we will be speaking the “same language” since the assessment objectives will be the same for both key stages. It is important for us as a school to move away from the old National Curriculum levels as they will no longer be relevant in either primary or secondary school and the old levels do not link cohesively to the new KS4 objectives.

To be clear, the new criteria for our ‘Steps’ do not correspond with the old National Curriculum levels. For instance, it cannot be said that a new ‘Step’ 5 is equal to the old National Curriculum Level 4.

Forgive the change! It is change placed upon us but change that we are convinced will in the long term be of great help to students, parents and their teachers.

It is very important to us that we create a system of reporting at Key Stage 3 that is helpful to students, their parents or carers and staff.  If you have any feedback on our new assessment routine we would be happy to receive your comments.


Curriculum criteria for each subject is also available on the individual department’s home pages.