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National Curriculum

Assessment in ICT


Making a judgement

At the end of a key stage, teachers should judge which level description best fits the pupil's performance. Each description should be considered alongside descriptions for adjacent levels. When making a judgement at the end of a key stage, you may wish to note the following points.

Making your judgement

  • You will arrive at judgements by taking into account strengths and weaknesses in performance across a range of contexts and over a period of time, rather than focusing on a single piece of work.

  • A single piece of work will not cover all the expectations set out in a level description. It will probably provide partial evidence of attainment in one or two aspects of a level description. If you look at it alongside other pieces of work covering a range of contexts you will be able to make a judgement about which level best fits a pupil's overall performance.

Range of a teacher's knowledge about attainment

  • Much of the evidence about attainment may be ephemeral and gained from observation and discussion with pupils. For example, the decision making that occurs as a pupil uses ICT to develop ideas may not be evident in the final print-out.

Giving pupils opportunities to demonstrate attainment

  • Your pupils will need to use a range of forms of communication to show what they can do.

  • In planning units of work and classroom approaches, you will need to provide opportunities for pupils to display their achievements in different ways, and to work in a range of situations.

  • As they make progress it will be necessary to provide pupils with opportunities to engage in open-ended tasks that allow them to independently apply their ICT capability.


Although you will want to be able to explain why you have awarded particular levels to pupils at the end of the key stage, there is no requirement for judgements to be explained in a particular way or to be supported by detailed collections of evidence for each pupil. Decisions about collecting information, about its purpose and how it should be used are matters for teachers working within an agreed school policy.

Progression in ICT

There are four aspects of attainment  in ICT at key stages 1 and 2:

  1. finding things out

  2. developing ideas and making things happen

  3. exchanging and sharing information

  4. reviewing, modifying and evaluating work as it progresses.

The level descriptions in ICT capability show progression in these four aspects in terms of the knowledge, skills and understanding set out in the programme of study.

Performance at level 1

This is characterised by the use of ICT to explore options and make choices to communicate meaning. Pupils develop familiarity with simple ICT tools.

Typically, pupils:

  • explore information from various sources, showing they know that it exists in different forms

  • present and share ideas using text, images and sounds. They talk about using ICT

  • recognise that everyday devices respond to signals and make simple choices when using devices.


As part of a project about life and living things pupils look at information on animals. They use books, magazines, photographs and a CD-ROM. They talk about where different animals are found. They use an art package to create a farmyard scene, choosing appropriate animals and placing them onto a background. They make a class display and talk about the similarities and differences between print-outs, photographs and drawings.

Performance at level 2

This is characterised by purposeful use of ICT to achieve specific outcomes.

Typically, pupils:

  • gather, organise and classify information

  • explore real and imaginary scenarios.

  • generate and amend work

  • plan and give instructions to make things happen

  • present their findings. They record, save and share ideas in different forms, including text, tables, images and sounds.


In geography pupils are considering safe routes to school. As part of the project they undertake a survey of the frequency of traffic on local roads. They use a graphing program to enter, store and present their data. They use this information to identify the busiest and quietest roads. They record their findings onto a map, which they use to plan safe routes to school.

Performance at level 3

This is characterised by the use of ICT to develop ideas and solve problems.

Typically, pupils:

  • find and use appropriate stored information, following straightforward lines of enquiry

  • explore ICT-based models or simulations to help them find things out and solve problems

  • generate and amend work

  • create sequences of instructions to control devices and achieve specific outcomes

  • generate, develop and organise their work. They use ICT to present, share and exchange their ideas with others.


Pupils help to plan a day trip. They use the internet and paper-based materials to find out the entry fees to various tourist attractions. They use route-finding software to determine the distance to various attractions. Pupils enter this data into a spreadsheet model prepared in collaboration with the teacher. The model includes information on entry fees and cost of transport. They use the model to establish the cost per pupil. The teacher provides a number of scenarios, such as an increase in the number of pupils. Pupils explore the model to answer questions. Later groups make presentations to the rest of the class about their preferred destinations.

Performance at level 4

This is characterised by the ability to combine and refine information from various sources.

Pupils interpret and question the plausibility of information.

Typically, pupils:

  • find and interrogate information, understanding the need for care in framing questions

  • amend and combine different forms of information from a variety of sources

  • generate and amend work

  • explore patterns and relationships using ICT-based models and simulations. They interpret their findings, question plausibility and recognise that poor-quality information leads to unreliable results

  • control events in a predetermined manner and to sense physical data

  • present information in different forms. They refine the quality of their presentations showing an awareness of the intended audience

  • compare their use of ICT with other methods.


Pupils were asked to investigate the Elgin marbles. They use various information sources, including the internet, to gather information about the marbles. The teacher asks the class to create a presentation incorporating two contrasting points of view about the future of the marbles. Pupils cut and paste information from the web and create a scrapbook of information. They synthesise this information to create bullet points to use in a presentation. They combine pictures and text within the presentation. They present their work to other classes in the year group. Later, pupils conduct a survey to establish which point of view is most common within the school.

Performance at level 5

This is characterised by combining the use of ICT tools within the overall structure of an ICT solution. Pupils critically evaluate the fitness for purpose of work as it progresses.

Typically, pupils:

  • select the information they need for different purposes, check its accuracy and organise it in a form suitable for processing. An increased range of quantitative and qualitative information is considered

  • structure and refine information in different forms and styles for specific purposes and audiences

  • explore the effects of changing the variables in an ICT-based model

  • create sequences of instructions to control events, and understand the need for precision

  • monitor and measure external events with sensors

  • assess the use of ICT in their work and are able to reflect critically in order to make improvements in subsequent work.


Pupils investigate the logistics associated with staging school theatre productions. They gather information about costs from the head of drama. They collect information about hire of costumes, special effects and copyright fees. They create a spreadsheet model. They create a seat-booking system. They use information from this in their financial model to investigate break-even points for different productions. As part of the theatre theme they create programmes and posters for different productions.

About the attainment target

The attainment target in ICT sets out the knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils of different abilities and maturities are expected to have by the end of each key stage. Attainment targets consist of eight level descriptions of increasing difficulty, plus a description of exceptional performance above level 8. Each level description describes the type and range of performance that pupils working at that level should characteristically demonstrate.

The level descriptions provide the basis for making judgements about pupils' performance at the end of a key stage.

The majority of pupils are expected to work at:

  • levels 1-3 in key stage 1 and attain level 2 at the end of the key stage

  • levels 2-5 in key stage 2 and attain level 4 at the end of the key stage.

By indicating expectations at particular levels and by charting broad progression in the subject, the level descriptions can also inform planning, teaching and assessment. Please note, the level descriptions are not designed to be used to 'level' individual pieces of work.

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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