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National Curriculum

Assessment in design and technology


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.

  • You will want to consider evidence from each of the material areas. Since all the material areas may not be covered in the final year of the key stage, evidence from previous years may need to be used.

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.


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 design and technology

There are three aspects of attainment in design and technology at key stages 1 and 2:

  • developing, planning and communicating ideas

  • working with tools, equipment, materials and components to make quality products

  • evaluating processes and products.

The level descriptions show progression in these three aspects, with knowledge, skills and understanding supporting attainment. Progression in design and technology is as follows.

When developing ideas pupils:

  • generate ideas and recognise characteristics of familiar products (level 1)

  • generate ideas and plan what to do next, based on their experience of working with materials and components (level 2)

  • generate ideas and recognise that their designs have to meet a range of different needs (level 3)

  • generate ideas by collecting and using information. They take users' views into account (level 4)

  • draw on and use various sources of information. They use their understanding of the characteristics of familiar products when developing their own ideas (level 5).

When planning they:

  • show that, with help, they can put their ideas into practice (level 1)

  • select appropriate tools, techniques and materials, explaining their choices (level 2)

  • make realistic plans for achieving their aims. They think ahead about the order of their work, choosing appropriate tools, equipment, materials, components and techniques (level 3)

  • produce step-by-step plans (level 4)

  • work from their own detailed plans, modifying them where appropriate (level 5).

When communicating ideas they:

  • use pictures and words to describe what they want to do (level 1)

  • use models, pictures and words to describe their designs (level 2)

  • clarify ideas when asked and use words, labelled sketches and models to communicate the details of their designs (level 3)

  • communicate alternative ideas using words, labelled sketches and models, showing that they are aware of constraints (level 4)

  • clarify their ideas through discussion, drawing and modelling when communicating their own ideas (level 5).

When producing quality products they:

  • explain what they are making and which tools they are using. They use tools and materials with help, where needed (level 1)

  • use tools and assemble, join and combine materials and components in a variety of ways (level 2)

  • use tools and equipment with some accuracy to cut and shape materials and to put together components (level 3)

  • work with a variety of materials and components with some accuracy, paying attention to quality of finish and to function. They select and work with a range of tools and equipment (level 4)

  • work with a range of tools, materials, equipment, components and processes with some precision. They check their work as it develops and modify their approach in the light of progress (level 5).

When evaluating processes and products they:

  • talk about their own and other people's work in simple terms and describe how a product works (level 1)

  • recognise what they have done well as their work progresses, and suggest things they could do better in the future (level 2)

  • identify where evaluation of the design and make process and their products has led to improvements (level 3)

  • reflect on their designs as they develop, bearing in mind the way the product will be used. They identify what is working well and what could be improved (level 4)

  • test and evaluate their products, showing that they understand the situations in which their designs will have to function and are aware of resources as a constraint. They evaluate their products and their use of information sources (level 5).

About the attainment target

The attainment target in design and technology 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, 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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