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P scales

P scales are assessment criteria that have been developed to help assess pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who are working below level 1 of the National Curriculum.

Reporting P scales is mandatory from September 2007, this means that schools must now use P scales to provide data for pupils with SEN who are working below level 1 of the National Curriculum.

The P scales have a number of functions in both mainstream and special schools. Staff can use the P scales to:

  • support summative assessment, enabling staff to make and record judgements about pupil attainment at the end of a year or key stage;
  • track individual pupils' linear progress towards subject-specific attainment at National Curriculum level 1 and beyond;
  • identify and record individual pupils' lateral progress by helping staff to look for related skills at similar levels across subjects;
  • look for patterns in the attainment of pupils;
  • provide information for school managers setting targets for whole-school improvement.

The P scales are split into eight different levels with P1 being the lowest and P8 the highest. P1 to P3 are not subject specific.

The use of P scales is central to our commitment to recognise the attainment and progress of pupils with SEN, aged 5–16, who are working below level 1 of the National Curriculum. As mainstream schools and settings become more inclusive there will be an increasing need to include P scales in the whole school assessment and planning cycle as part of the continuum of learning and development. It is our intention that these materials include links and references to existing materials, processes and initiatives to support the use and alignment of P scales within that whole school perspective in both special and mainstream schools and settings.

The source of much of the resource material originates from a three year DfES Regional Partnership research project in collaboration with the University of Northampton and the East Midlands Regional Partnership. The National Strategies have continued to collaborate with the University of Northampton to develop these materials.


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