National curriculum assessments
National curriculum assessments are designed to measure standards of achievement reached by young people in key areas of the curriculum.
Tests are set to assess pupils' attainment in English and mathematics when they are 7 and 11, and in science when they are 11. In the assessment of 7-year-olds, test results are used to inform teachers' judgements of pupils' attainment.
Ofqual sets out the regulatory framework for national curriculum assessments which are delivered by QCDA. A code of practice governs all aspects of the assessment process, from the development of tests to the collection and reporting of results data, and sets the criteria Ofqual use to monitor the system. The code is designed to ensure that the public can have confidence in the standards set in national curriculum assessments, that they reflect the national curriculum requirements and that the results are a true reflection of pupils' attainment.
National Curriculum key stages
The National Curriculum is organised into blocks of years called 'key stages'. 'Foundation stage' covers education for children before they reach five (compulsory school age).
Test development process
Experts begin to develop test questions almost two and half years before your child sits the tests
About 18 months before your child takes the test, the questions are trialled by pupils in a small number of schools, revised and then tested again
Once the questions are ready, the test papers are sent to print at secure printers, to keep them confidential, just as they are with GCSE and A level exam papers
Throughout the last two weeks of April around 10 million papers are delivered to all around 25,000 key stage 2 and 3 schools across England, ready for the tests.
Sitting the exams
Once your child has taken their tests, the papers are sent to independent, external markers for grading
Results and progress
When the results are returned to the schools, your child's teacher will inform you about how your child is progressing at school and at what level they are working at